One of the great pleasures of being the Executive Director of WILDCOAST is being able to evaluate our impact each year. And this year was a tremendous year of success. Here are some of our results.
Surf from Hurricane Marie, a Category 5 hurricane, hit Southern California like a bomb on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 26 and through Thursday August 28. While the focus of the swell was in Orange and LA Counties, beaches in Baja and San Diego County experienced large surf and coastal erosion as well.
The Eastern Pacific has seen a very intense and early Hurricane season this year. The reason is extremely warm water around Baja California and Mexico’s Pacific Coastline. You can see the elevated water temps in red in this excellent map below.
As the surf filled in on Wednesday the 27th coastal flooding occurred in Seal Beach and at Pt. Mugu State Beach in Los Angeles County. Homes were impacted in Seal Beach and a historic lifeguard station was destroyed at Pt. Mugu. There was also damage from high waves on Catalina Island.
From the LA Times:
The massive surf sent the historic Cove House training building crumbling to the shore at Point Mugu State Park. It washed away a 25-foot section of breakwater protecting the Anaheim Bay in Seal Beach. Pilings at the Malibu Pier were swept into the ocean, and cargo operations had to be temporarily halted at the Port of Long Beach on Wednesday.
On Catalina Island, the waves “essentially destroyed” White’s Landing Pier and another pier at Camp Fox, said Bob Reid, a spokesman for the Catalina Island Conservancy. The ocean was so clouded with debris and silt Thursday that one of the island’s famed glass-bottom boat tours became a sightseeing outing instead.
In Imperial Beach where I live the waves weren’t so large (the storm was focusing wave energy further north) but the strong surf and current resulted in significant coastal erosion. Here are images of the southern end of the beach where there was more erosion that at any time over the past two years.
Here is a photo of the surf in Imperial Beach by JC Monje that shows the strong swell and why the current and also sand is moving northward. Hurricane swells create a very long longshore current that takes sand from the southern part of the beach and transports it northward where it over time it can end up in Coronado.
If the multiplicity of agencies working along the U.S.-Mexico border from both the U.S. and Mexico did their job, there would be little trash, sediment and waste tires in the Tijuana River. Unfortunately most look the other way until they are pressured to clean things up. Now WILDCOAST is pressuring agencies to clean up the river before winter or more unusual summer rains happen.
One of the great fallacies about dealing with untreated wastewater is that solutions require huge government investments in giant and expensive centralized sewage treatment plants. But not only is this not a solution in the cities of the developing world (because those plants can’t treat sewage for people who aren’t hooked up to the sewage line), but when those plants break down, there are major problems with sewage spills and then polluted waterways and beaches.
Tijuana has historically been unable to deal with its high volume of wastewater due to its rapid growth and difficult terrain. Tijuana has relied on the U.S. for must of its wastewater treatment infrastructure. In the past 20-30 years Tijuana has built a series of small-scale treatment plants.
In the late 1980s, a group of conservationists in Mexico and the U.S. developed a small-scale decentralized project, Ecoparque, in eastern Tijuana that was designed to treat wastewater and reuse it for gardens, compost and even wetlands. The project was built and treats sewage from a nearby neighborhood, but because of the inability of agencies to think outside the box beyond giant projects, more Ecoparques were not built.
I recently toured the Ecoparque facility in Tijuana. It is being upgraded and expanded by COLEF in Tijuana and has the potential to serve as a great model for other low-cost and simple wastewater treatment projects that can provide much needed water for community gardens, wetlands, native plant restoration projects, and native plant nurseries. Additionally it can provide low-cost compost for all of these activities. Back in 1987 or 1988 I volunteered for a day on the construction of Ecoparque. I had also volunteered for the construction of the first module that was tested in the Tijuana River Valley on the U.S. side.
At the end of the day, the current model of mid to large treatment plants is not a solution. They are too expensive and too centralized. Projects like Ecoparque should be the future. After all, not a single drop of wastewater, especially in our climate and with this drought, should ever reach the ocean.
These photos were taken at a sewage gulch at the south end of Baja Malibu or Campo Torres on July 23, 2014 (same beach different development). The sewage is released from a development east of the coastal toll road. WILDCOAST is following up with CONAGUA and PROFEPA in Mexico to file complaints. Residents complain of foul odors, fouled ocean water and tons of mosquitoes.
On Saturday March 22, 2014 young surfers from Mexico and the U.S. gathered in San Miguel, Baja California to participate in the 4th Annual Walter Caloca Surf Contest. Organized by Alfredo Ramirez and United Athletes of the Pacific Ocean (UAPO) with the help of Zach Plopper and WILDCOAST/COSTASALVAJE, the event provided a forum for young surfers to rip 2-4′ waves and celebrate international friendships. Additionally, Day 1, included the SUP and bodyboard divisions.
It was a great day. Day 2 on March 23, is the open event. The photos here are all from Day 1.
On Saturday March 1, 2014, the surf from an unusual almost Hurricane like storm (in its appearance) battered the coast of Southern California. The surf went from 3-5′ on Saturday morning to more than 10-15′ on Saturday afternoon. High tides and surf that evening resulted in coastal flooding in Imperial Beach and up and down the California coast (especially in the Santa Barbara area).
In Imperial Beach this swell combined with high tides to create coastal flooding. Surf topped over the sand berm along the beachfront especially in the Cortez/Descanso area and at the Palm Avenue Jetty. On Saturday afternoon surf broke well past the Imperial Beach Pier and over a mile offshore on distant reefs.
Over the past few days in Imperial Beach we’ve had “King Tides” or the highest tides of the year (over 7 feet). The tides caused with larger than average surf (in the 4-8′ range and out of the west) resulted in coastal flooding. The San Diego Union-Tribune came down to shoot this video and was lucky to have Dr. Bob Guza of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to explain why the flooding was happening. You can see the U-T video here: http://bcove.me/zyhb25e7