San Diego Coastkeeper Monitoring Finds Chollas Creek Burdened with Pollution

Samples collected from 2021 to 2023 found high levels of phosphorus, bacteria, and other pollutants, reinforcing the need for investment in stormwater infrastructure.

SAN DIEGO –– San Diego Coastkeeper published its first report on water quality in Chollas Creek today, using data collected from multiple locations along the creek from 2021-2023. The water quality at all six sampling locations regularly failed state regulatory standards established to protect public health and the environment. Samples indicated high levels of zinc, copper, nitrates/nitrites, phosphorus, bacteria, and other pollutants. This data reflects the need for increased investment in stormwater infrastructure, including green infrastructure projects in the communities surrounding Chollas Creek, that would help capture and treat urban runoff and benefit the health and safety of nearby neighborhoods.

  • Water samples failed standards 42 percent of the time (223 out of 529 samples).
  • Phosphorus and E.coli failed standards more than 70 percent of the time, and Enterococcus failed standards 80 percent of the time.
  • Eighteen students from Lincoln High School used scientific equipment to help monitor the health of Chollas Creek.
  • Students collected 471 data parameters and sent 529 water quality samples to a lab for processing and analysis.

“This program inspires students to care for their communities through field-based learning and outdoor excursions and aims to activate the next generation of environmental scientists, conservationists, and stewards. We hope community members and decision-makers find this report educational and helpful in advocating for cleaner, safer, and more accessible waterways in San Diego,” says Director of Science Rachele Lopez.

The 2021-2023 Chollas Creek Water Quality Report is available in English and Spanish. It includes pictures, observations, data insights, and graphs for six sampling locations along Chollas Creek. This report and its findings result from Coastkeeper’s BIPOC Youth Science Program, a community science and workforce development program, in partnership with Groundwork San Diego – Chollas Creek and Outdoor Outreach.


About San Diego Coastkeeper

Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects and restores San Diego County’s bays, beaches, watersheds, and ocean for the people and wildlife that depend on them. Coastkeeper balances community outreach, education, science, advocacy, and legal enforcement to promote clean water stewardship and a healthy coastal ecosystem. For more information, visit