February 23-Coastkeeper Announces County’s 2010 Water Quality Monitoring Data

Elevated pollutant levels found in Escondido and Tijuana watersheds

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SAN DIEGO, CA-Feb. 23, 2011- San Diego Coastkeeper’s Water Quality Monitoring data show high levels of nitrate concentration in Escondido Creek and increasing amounts of fecal indicator in the Tijuana River, according to data released today by the organization. During 2010, Coastkeeper’s 17 watershed captains led 142 newly trained volunteers to complete 2,206 hours of sampling and testing in the region’s creeks and streams. Monthly, the Water Quality Monitoring team collects water samples in nine out of eleven watersheds in San Diego and then screens them for basic chemistry, nutrients, bacteria and toxicity.

The data from 2010 show that Escondido creek has some of the highest nitrate concentration in the region, which can lead to clogging of the waterway and negative impacts to aquatic organisms. Nitrate can be an indicator of fertilizer run-off, sewage, animal manure and other types of contamination.

“The Regional Water Quality Control Board does not currently list Escondido Creek for nitrates. We submitted our data showing the elevated levels to the regulators to be considered under the next listing process,” said Travis Pritchard, San Diego Coastkeeper’s Water Quality Lab Coordinator. “This is how our Water Quality Monitoring program and its team of volunteers are making San Diego’s water healthier.”

According the 2010 data, the nutrient concentrations found in the Tijuana River exceed standards due to raw, untreated sewage that gets flushed through the river system during rain events. This water source closes southern county beaches that extend to Coronado. Complete 2010 data sets for Escondido Creek and Tijuana River, along with sampling sites in all nine watersheds, can be found at www.sdwatesheds.org.

In addition to the unusual levels found in Escondido and Tijuana River, the data Coastkeeper’s Water Quality Monitoring program collect help establish water quality trends in the county’s watersheds. Not all data show extreme levels of differentiation, but it’s still essential to improve government decision making regarding local water bodies.

“In data analyzed region wide, we see concentrations of pollutants increase during storm events,” said Pritchard. “This illustrates the significant negative effects of urban storm water runoff on the regional water quality.”

The results from monitoring events, along with watershed information and locations of monitoring sites, are posted online for the public to access. Find data for locations near cities at:

  • Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, Coronado, National City, and San Diego: Otay Watershed

All events are open to community members interested in monitoring water quality. New volunteer trainings take place every other month. For more information, visit Coastkeeper’s website at localhost/sdcoastkeeper, or email Dylan Edwards at [email protected].

San Diego Coastkeeper also posts the current beach water quality status on its site, along with the historic beach water quality data in graphs. The watershed information and water quality data can be accessed through Coastkeeper’s site at localhost/sdcoastkeeper.

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San Diego Coastkeeper

Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects the region’s bays, beaches, watersheds and ocean for the people and wildlife that depend on them. We balance community outreach, education, and advocacy to promote stewardship of clean water and a healthy coastal ecosystem.