Paddle for Clean Water

On Sunday September 18th, my sons and I participated in the 20th Annual Paddle for Clean Water organized by the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. It is a fun event with hundreds of surfers from around San Diego County paddling a variety of watercraft around the Ocean Beach Pier. The OB Geriatric Surf Club and the PB Surf Club chaired by shaper and Baja vet Josh Hall provided water safety in 80’s style pink painter caps.

Even though it was sort of a windy, overcast morning with horrible surf conditions (small and closed out), the crowd was stoked and everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time.  Thanks to Surfrider San Diego for demonstrating their passion for clean water and a healthy ocean.

IB surfer and environmental activist Jeff Knox with my sons Israel and Daniel.

Surfrider's Rise Against Plastic Coordinator Bill Hickman, ocean champion and former City of SD councilmember Donna Frye, environmental attorney Rory Wicks and an unidentified friend.

Legendary surfer and shaper Skip Frye and friends.

Piper Bob playing a rousing version of the Star Spangled Banner.

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Surfing in Sewage

 

Beach closure sign--a common sight in Imperial Beach, California.

Imperial Beach, California, my hometown is just north of the Tijuana River. When it rains and sometimes for weeks afterward, millions of gallons of sewage polluted water flows out of the rivermouth and into the ocean.

That makes Imperial Beach difficult to surf if you value clean water.

For the past six years WiLDCOAST has carried out a “Clean Water Now” campaign. The campaign has helped to get millions and millions of dollars allocated for the construction of new sewage treatment plants on both sides of the border.

Image via Wikipedia

That is good. But when it rains, the sewage pours. Our beach was closed between December 18 and January 5th. It was opened for one day yesterday and closed this morning (January 7th).

Yesterday I paddled out to take advantage of the clean NW groundswell. The water was fine. On the way in I smelled it–the odd detergent like smell of treated and or untreated sewage. It is specifically a sweet chemical weird smell.Around noon I paddled out again and did not notice any smells.

I notified County of San Diego authorities. This morning I paddled out again and once again got a whiff of that weird sewage odor. Bummer. Right afterward the beach closures signs were posted by the County of San Diego.

We use the Scripps Oceanography plume tracker to monitor ocean conditions and correlate sewage flow with the direction of the nearshore plume. The combination of a south wind and south to north current is a death sentence for surfing in IB.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography Plume Tracker for Tijuana RiverThis is arguably the world’s best tool for proactively managing ocean pollution. It requires water quality testing and field observations. But this plume tracker has helped us understand when pollution is hitting our beach.

And tomorrow I’ll be taking a pickup filled with groms to Trestles. That is why we campaigned so hard to “Save Trestles.” Because when the water is polluted we head north to clean waves and water!!!

 

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