Surfrider Foundation San Diego Chapter will be launching the Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) program in early 2018 due in part to receiving a generous grant from Las Patronas, a historically philanthropic organization in San Diego. Since 1946, Las Patronas has donated over $20 million to over a thousand charitable institutions that support a diverse range of causes and services in San Diego.
The Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) is Surfrider Foundation’s national volunteer-run, water
testing, education and advocacy program. The program was founded upon Surfrider Foundation’s Clean Water Initiative:
To protect water quality so it is safe to surf, swim, and play in the ocean.
Similar to the national program, San Diego’s Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) program will be a water quality monitoring, education and advocacy program, run by Surfrider San Diego volunteers and community volunteers impacted by water quality issues. Specifically, the SD BWTF will facilitate weekly water quality results in order to inform public recreational use in our Weekend Beach Reports.
For approximately 20% of the year, the beaches of Imperial Beach are closed because the level of human sewage is too risky for contact or exposure. The nearby Tijuana Sloughs are closed 60% of the time due to hazardous human waste. Other times, neither are closed but the stench of raw, untreated sewage flowing in the nearby Tijuana River causes residents to stay indoors, keep windows closed, and dart home from their cars fighting nausea, gagging, and watering eyes. In February 2017, the largest sewage spill in ten years occured, where the U.S. estimates somewhere between 143 to 200 million gallons of sewage contaminated the regions of Imperial Beach and Coronado.
The first year of the BWTF program will focus on the areas most affected by water quality in the Tijuana River Valley, Coronado and Imperial Beach (one of the most water polluted regions of San Diego County). BWTF will identify and add additional testing sites of areas that are negatively impacted by water quality issues within San Diego Counties 72 miles of coastline.
Surfrider has partnered with community groups and schools in the South Bay area to focus water quality sampling and testing on highly vulnerable pollution zones. Students and volunteers will perform weekly water quality testing and results will be posted to Surfrider Foundation San Diego’s website.
The second lab will reside in the Surfrider Foundation San Diego office, centrally located in Sorrento Valley. This lab will be used as an open lab for all Surfrider volunteers and concerned citizens that are a part of BWTF, to test water samples and post results as the program targets the need for testing at other site along our communities coastline.
THE BIG WHY:
SD BWTF will be established with the following objectives:
to provide concerned citizens with the opportunity for hands-on involvement with an environmental problem solving effort;
to gather coastal water samples on a regular basis to determine pollution levels in the near shore environment;
to raise public awareness regarding the extent and severity of coastal water pollution;
to use the data collected to bring polluters into compliance; and
to develop a model program that could influence national legislation and enforcement.