Desal in Baja? Bad Deal for the Coast

Pacific Ocean Coast at Ensenada, Baja Californ...

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday the San Diego Union Tribune reported on the potential development of four new desalination plants on the coast between Tijuana and Ensenada. From the article:

Now water managers are considering whether to build four desalination plants along the Pacific Ocean corridor that spans Rosarito Beach to Ensenada. Two of the proposals are binational ventures — one private, the other public — that would pipe a portion of the processed seawater to users in San Diego County.

The private project has been moving forward quickly in recent months as developers explore the possibility of a reverse-osmosis facility in Rosarito Beach with an initial capacity of 50 million gallons daily. That would be as large as the Poseidon plant scheduled for operations in Carlsbad.

For years, U.S. and Mexican water agencies have discussed the prospects of a binational desalination plant in Rosarito Beach, and the issue is gaining momentum as mounting supply demands and drought have strained the Colorado River.

To develop open coastal space in Baja California to fuel development in San Diego County (the Otay Water District would purchase some of the water) seems like a crazy scheme.

I write about the threat of desal in Baja and worldwide in my new book Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias:

Efforts to build these (desal) plants instead of investing in water conservation represents a new global threat to coastal and marine resources.

My travels in Victoria, Australia, during the summer of 2009, revealed that a planned desal plant on a pristine stretch of coast southeast of Melbourne, was one of the biggest environmental issues in all of Australia.

For Mexicans concerned about the current lack of public access to their coast, it must be troubling to think that their coastline will be used to fuel development in Southern California. Due to the significant issue of sewage polluted ocean water in and around Rosarito Beach, it is troubling to think that a company would suck polluted water out of the ocean, use huge amounts of fossil fuel burning energy to suck out the salt, and then send the water to San Diego County.

These new desal plans are proof that the Baja Boom is coming back to the Baja coast. And the future is very clear–Baja’s coast will be rapidly industrialized to fuel development for Southern California.

Saving Gray Whales in Baja’s San Ignacio Lagoon


Image via Wikipedia

grey whales in san ignacio lagoon - baja calif...

Image by m_uhlig via Flickr

Just heard that Mexico‘s Protected Area Commission (CONANP) announced the conservation of 299,000 acres north of San Ignacio Lagoon. This was gray whale habitat once under the ax by the Mitsubishi Corporation and destined to be one of the world’s largest industrial salt facilities.

Thanks to my colleagues at WiLDCOAST we were able to support this effort and other efforts to conserve one of the world’s most amazing coastal ecosystems.

Felicidades to all!!

It is not often you get great news about good things happening to save the planet!

Gray whale - Eschrichtius robustus - at Scammo...

Image via Wikipedia

San Miguel, A Crazy Surfer Girlfriend, and the Coolest Taco Stand in Baja Norte

Since WiLDCOAST, the organization I run has an office in Ensenada, today I spent the day there.

Luckily the day was not all work.

Zach Plopper, Ben McCue and I left Imperial Beach early, crossed the border and surf checked the TJ-Ensenada coast.

We settled on  San Miguel for a no-crowd 2-3′ crystal clear water very fun session. The water was warm for northern Baja (64 or so).

There was not a single other surfer out on the entire TJ-Ensenada coastline.

I mean nadie. No one. Nobody.


I love surfing San Miguel with no crowd. You pay $5.00 to park. The bathrooms and shower area are clean. There is no trash.

All in all what Baja Norte is supposed to be.

But no longer is.

As we left the water, a bodyboarder was heading out. He had parked his Suburban next to the WilDCOAST Tacoma. Inside was his lady friend or wife.

She was crazy.

Apparently she was angry at the boyfriend for being in the ocean.

So she got in the driver’s seat of the car, started it up and proceeded to spin in circles around the San Miguel parking lot.

Start and Stop.Drive in a circle. Start and Stop. Punch the gas. Drive in a cirlcle. Start and Stop.

We hauled ass out of there before she decided to drive into us.

No matter where you are in Baja there is always something interesting happening.

Now after a fun session at San Miguel, what is the best breakfast option?

Tacos El Trailero por supuesto!!

Zach and Ben scarfed some carne asada tacos at Baja Norte’s best taco stand in El Sauzal.

You know it is good when all the Baja1000 teams have plastered their stickers all over the place.

Trust the desert racers.

After a day of meetings (and the great news that our Condor Conservation Team had won a national conservation award in Mexico), the boys decided to stop once again at El Trailero.

Viva los Tacos!

Viva Baja!

On the Road in Baja

We are on the road in Baja with Chris del Moro of Surfers for Cetaceans.

And shocked to hear the news about the death of Andy Irons. Baja is as always a welcome respite from civilization.

First Trips to Mexico and Central America

When I was a kid back in the early and mid-70s I traveled and lived in Mexico and Central America.

In 1972 I visited San Felipe with my Uncle Emile and Aunt Jill who were visiting from Switzerland.

Then in 1974, my dad loaded up a Ford Econoline Van and our family headed south to El Salvador for a year, traveling through Guatemala and Belize. What an incredible trip.

Another view of the market

Image via Wikipedia

We visited the ruins in Tikal and Palenque and wandered around Chichicastenango with an Indian family.

When I started surfing my dad took me and my best friend Tim Hannan on our first Baja surfari that included surfing with dolphins, gray whales and riding perfect right point waves.

In 1982 at the age of 18, I took a trip to Michoacan with Imperial Beach Lifeguards Richard Abrams and Jim Sullivan. The waves at Ticla were dreamy 6′-8′ A-frames. We even got chased out of the water by a giant hammerhead shark.

The trip occurred right before I started my freshman year UCSD. Our airline tickets cost $80 roundtrip. They were super cheap because we purchased them just after Mexico’s horrible peso devaluation and prices hadn’t yet been adjusted.

When a bunch of locals, some with pistols tucked in their pants, went on a Mexican Independence Day borrachera, I got a little nervous. But we got home okay. 

It is still one of the best surf trips I have ever been on.

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