Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It took local Surfers and activists from Surfrider and Wildcoast to get Federal and County officials to finally notify the public about a sewage spill from the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant(SBIWTP). 

On April 4, a software malfunction at the South Bay International Waste Water Treatment Plant along the border began the discharge of a significant volume of untreated sewage into the Tijuana River Valley.
While the company contracted by the International Boundary Water Commission (IBWC) to monitor the release of treated sewage failed to prevent the spill, another key problem was the poor communication in notifying the public about the hazard, which could have had significant public health effects throughout the South Bay.

On April 26th, the pumps were finally repaired and the USIBWC has updated its spill notification procedures in an effort to provide more timely notice to interested stakeholders. Moreover, plant operators have taken steps, such as upgrading warning systems, to prevent the problem from recurring. The Department of Health is now working closely with Surfrider and Wildcoast to provide more timely notifications and warnings to the public when and if future spills occur.

Surfrider is not a newsgathering organization, but we place a high value on the accuracy of the facts we use to argue in favor of protecting water quality. The breakdown in communication in this incident highlights several points critical to Surfrider’s No Border Sewage (No B.S.) campaign:

• Ongoing sewage problems affecting the border are unacceptable.
• Timely notification is critical to public health when spills occur.
• Citizen stakeholders must be a part of the initial notification process.

The USIBWC will be holding a Public Meeting to address these recent sewage-control problems on the Tijuana River – Thursday, May 10, 6pm at Tijuana Estuary Meeting Room, 301 Caspian Way, Imperial Beach. The forum is designed to address regional water and wastewater issues. The agenda includes Dave Fogerson of the San Diego County Water Authority, who will give an overview of binational efforts to study a desalination plant in Rosarito, Mexico. This study is being conducted by U.S. and Mexican agencies as part of larger binational efforts to review a number of Colorado River water supply augmentation projects, operations and management practices. In addition, local boundary commission operations manager Steve Smullen will discuss a pump station failure at the South Bay IWTP that caused a sewage spill to the Tijuana River.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Non TransparentSea

The TransparentSea Voyage was such a great concept: an awareness campaign aimed at highlighting coastal environmental issues, with particular attention given to cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and the waters they inhabit.” (http://transparentseavoyage.com/) It has also been a tremendous disappointment. Its organizers and participants squandered a wonderful opportunity to shed light on major problems facing cetaceans and humans along the Southern California coast. Instead of doing so, the voyage went from groomed beach to groomed beach (El Capitan State Park to Mission Beach in San Diego) and party to party at exclusive, elite, and affluent venues (Malibu Inn, Mission Bay Yacht Club), and promoted clean ups at relatively clean beaches. The TransparentSea Voyage appears to have been a project to raise funds, not awareness. Awareness would have meant exposing what is, perhaps, North America’s worst ongoing ecological disaster. Instead of picking up a few cigarette butts and Starbuck’s cups at the Malibu pier and at Mission Beach, the crew could have helped collect TONS of debris and plastic just before winter rains wash them into our beautiful ocean. (http://www.wildcoast.net/media-center/news/398) Instead of “peddling” through the relatively pristine waters off the Palos Verde Peninsula, they could have sailed in front of a California river mouth were, during the rainy season, hundreds of millions of gallons of water contaminated with human waste and industrial pollutants flow onto our ocean EVERY DAY, sometimes for months on end, washing those tons of plastics and debris out to sea. (http://www.sccoos.org/data/tracking/IB/ - check it out after a rain event) Instead of observing dolphins and blue whales living in clear and fairly healthy water near San Pedro, they could have seen a large pod of resident dolphins surfing and eating in the perfect, empty waves of a classic surf spot – empty because of the often putrid and chocolate brown water. They could have seen whales swim through this same fetid plume, which extends miles out to sea when the river flows. This unbelievably gross water has driven the local surfers from the lineup of a classic reef break, a reef that is also a proposed MPA! (http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/20070102-9999-lz1s2surf.html) (http://www.wildcoast.net/media-center/news/270-tijuana-river-mouth-marine-protected-area-status-goes-into-effect-oct-1) Unfortunately, dolphins and grey whales can’t avoid the pollution like surfers do. This area is, basically, the Taiji Cove of the Californias. Dolphins certainly don’t suffer the quick, bloody death here that they do in Japan. They merely pass their winter months in an ocean filled with plastic waste, sewage, chemicals, and disease. Grey whales navigate these same poisoned waters twice a year on their annual migration. Who knows what effect it may have on them? The TransparentSea Voyage was informed about the problems this area poses to the ocean, humans, and cetaceans. It was asked to go there for a look, a couple of hours tops, on a tour that would have made their jaws drop. They didn’t come, apparently being too busy at glitzy venues, raising funds, and hobnobbing with the “elite”. This “cove” is the Tijuana River Valley, the Tijuana River, and the reef break known as the Tijuana Sloughs. It needs the kind of international exposure a project like TransparentSea can bring. Once again, an opportunity presented itself. Once again, the surfing community seems to have spent its time partying in beautiful and affluent places filled with beautiful and affluent people capable of giving large beautiful donations, instead of focusing on real problems. The TransparentSea Voyage was such a great concept. It was such a great disappointment.

Hi Jeff

We at S4C appreciate your passion and opinion for what Transparentsea did not accomplish. We have a long list of how to make this campaign better in the future and your input has been noted. Please continue to spread the word about the issues that the Tijuana Sloughs face as these are legitimate and something that needs to be addressed on both sides of the border.

Also please remember that our group are passionate volunteers who do campaigns like this because we feel its extremely important to do what we can for the oceans and the creatures that live in them, and not because of any "elite" or "exclusive" opportunities that appear to have presented themselves.

One of the goals of our non-profit is to inspire others as we have been inspired by other like minded activists over the years. You are clearly moved by the Transparentsea concept and very passionate about your local area and we applaud that effort...

We hope that in the future you will use those passions for the positive and not as a loud speaker to cut down our initiatives because it didn't meet your goals. We would love to help in any way we can going forward, but ask that you not use this platform to trash our efforts as the Sloughs and your local beaches have been trashed over the years.


justin krumb | S4C USA | www.s4cglobal.org |

Hi Justin,

Thanks for such a prompt reply. I would like to point out a few things that might help you wrap your mind around my passion. The issues regarding the Tijuana River are international in scope. Two-thirds of its watershed lay within Mexico. The assembly plant industry (“maquiladoras”) in Tijuana, which contributes so much of the industrial pollution, is made up of companies from, among other countries, Japan and Korea. The foot print of contamination extends far beyond the confines of Imperial Beach and the Tijuana Sloughs reef, extending for many miles to the north, south and out to sea. Industries directly impacted by the plume include not only tourism and sport (surfing, diving, fishing), but also commercial fisheries on both sides of the border. The United States military commandos (SEALS) abandoned the area for training because of health issues. The United States Border Patrol receives “hazardous duty” pay when assigned to the area. As I stated in my initial letter, cetaceans are also quite heavily impacted, since they feed in and travel though the plume. This has been an international issue for many years, since before I was born’ I’m 62. It has been ignored all this time, perhaps because it is occurring in a “lost” corner of California or is viewed by many as too hard to deal with and impossible to solve. Personally, I’ve been involved in efforts to preserve the estuary, clean it of debris and silt, educate the public, and solve the sewage and contamination problems for over 40 years. Our activism here, is neither self-serving nor self-promoting. We have labored in obscurity all these years and now seek help in bringing this problem into the light of day. Our activism is altruistic and grassroots. We seek to solve this real and immense problem, not pay lip service to it through glitz and glamour. Our hands are dirty and our backs are sore. You were contacted through San Diego Surfrider with anticipation and informed of the severity of the problem and the importance of shedding some light on it. Surfrider San Diego was informed that TransparentSea and Mr. Rastovich were “100% on board” for a tour of the Tijuana River Valley and willing to learn about its impact on the ocean environment. Neither TransparentSea nor Mr. Rastovich followed through and fulfilled their stated obligation to come. Our offer of a tour still holds. We would be very happy to have you and your TransparentSea crew witness the “Taiji Cove” of the Californias. Don’t forget to bring a camera. Please let us know when you will be here. You can contact us through San Diego Surfrider.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cleanup This Saturday October 8th from 9-12pm- Tijuana River Action Month

Tijuana River Action Network: Cleanup This Saturday October 8th from 9-12pm- : Join us this Saturday October 8, 2011 from 9-12pm for a cleanup of the Tijuana River as part of Tijuana River Action Month. Where: EAST of Dairy Mart Road Bridge When: Saturday October 8th from 9am-12pm. Why: Because we need to prevent trash from flowing out to our ocean! What: Bring your own supplies! Please wear long pants and closed toe shoes (no sandals please) We will provide supplies but bringing your own is highly encouraged. Water, snacks and goodies will be available.If there is light rain the day of the event the cleanup will go forward.

DIRECTIONS:From NorthTake 5 south exit on Dairy Mart Rd exit 3. Make a RIGHT at the stoplight. Pass a three way stop. Keep straight, pass the “Parks and Recreation-Tijuana River Valley Regional Park” sign”Road will slightly curve to the right-slow down. Make a LEFT onto a dirt road. Go down a small berm. Make a RIGHT (heading South)onto a semi paved road. Keep straight until you see a yellow “END” sign. Make a LEFT and follow the dirt road. Follow the orange flags until you come to a clearingPark on your right side by the canopies. We hope to see you there!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NoBS Campaign Events this Weekend and Tijuana River Action Month!‏

Hello everyone, here are updates and quite a few exciting events happening this weekend and during the upcoming Tijuana River Action Month (flier attached). It's a long one, so take a deep breath, sighhhh...and go!:

Coastal Cleanup Day - Saturday, September 17th 9-12pm. Surfrider NoBS will be hosting with the Tijuana Estuary at the Tijuana Slough location. This spot is currently full but we need more volunteers at Border Field State Park and Dairy Mart Road Bridge locations. Register today!! http://www.cleanupday.org/.Last year, more than 10,000 volunteers participated in San Diego County alone, but we know we can do better! Help us to remove harmful litter and debris from our beaches, bays, urban areas, and open spaces, while also tracking trash to learn more about the sources of this pollution and how we can stop it at its source. Visit http://www.cleanupday.org/ to learn more about the event, and to view a complete list of cleanup sites. Registration is now open, so gather your volunteer group and find the best site for you!

Surfrider 20th Anniversary Paddle for Clean Water - Sunday, September 18th 9-12pm at Ocean Beach Pier. The Paddle For Clean Water is a non-competitive event that consists of over 1000 local surfers and ocean enthusiasts paddling around the Ocean Beach Pier to bring awareness to the pollution problem along San Diego’s coastline. This is a free event, and everyone is invited to participate with any human-powered paddle craft. As part of the festivities, there will be free breakfast for all paddlers, guest speakers, a raffle and a beach cleanup. For more information http://paddle4cleanwater.blogspot.com/

Digging in: A Workshop on Community Based Restoration (Tijuana Estuary) - Wednesday, September 21st, 9am - 3pm at the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve Training Center. The workshop is based on the California Coastal Commission’s how-to manual, Digging In: A Guide to Community-Based Habitat Restoration. For more information and to register for a lunch ticket http://diggingin.eventbrite.com/.

Surfrider September Chapter Meeting - Wednesday, September 21st 7-9pm at Forum Hall above the Well Fargo Branch in UTC. This month's guest speaker is Oscar Romo who will be talking about the progress in Mexico and the Tijuana River Valley in addressing sediment, trash and sewage that degrades the region. Oscar is the Watershed Coordinator at the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. In this capacity, he is the principal investigator of the San Diego coastal storms project, the trash tracking project and the waste tires tracking project. He works in the development of bi-national pilot projects to control sediment, trash and waste water flows at the source, as well as the development and implementation of public policies to conserve ecosystems on both sides of the US/Mexico border. Oscar also serves as the US co-chair of the Border 2012 water task force, as a delegate to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and as a county delegate to the World Water Forum.

"National Public Lands Day" Border Field State Park 40th Anniversary Volunteer Planting Event - Saturday, September 24th 9-12pm at Border Field State Park, 1500 Monument Road, San Diego, CA. Celebrate National Public Lands Day and National Estuaries Day at a volunteer planting event on Saturday, September 24 at Border Field State Park. On-site registration at 9am. Be sure to wear long pants and closed toe shoes. Volunteers under 18 must have signed parent consent forms (available by request from volunteer@trnerr.org) tel:619-575-3613Surfrider hosted Tijuana River Valley Cleanup off Dairy Mart Road - Saturday, October 8th 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. As part of Tijuana River Action Month, Surfrider will be hosting a cleanup site at Dairy Mart Road Bridge Location. Contact Dan at dan@surfridersd.org to help with volunteer registration and sign in. For directions and more information on any of the Tijuana River Action Month events please see http://tijuanariveractionnetwork.blogspot.com/

South Water Quality Workshop: When is it safe to surf? Swim? - Wednesday, October 12th 6pm to 8pm at the Tijuana Estuary Training center. Presentations from local volunteer groups, Scripps, City of IB Lifeguards, City of San Diego about the quality of our water from inland rivers and streams that eventually lead to our Oceans here in South Bay San Diego.

Become a fan of NoBS at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=119244691440340#!/pages/NoBS-No-Border-Sewage-Campaign-Border-Sewage-Affects-Us-All/317796537442?ref=search&sid=aWd8NJo_Yhyq2wzUrV0nfw.670169746..1

As always check out the blog http://www.bordersewagecoalition.blogspot.com/ for the latest news, and here is the link to photos from recent Stewardship events and monthly water testing. http://www.flickr.com/photos/surfridersandiego/sets/72157627087376124/

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WANTED: Volunteers for a Major Cleanup of the Tijuana River Valley

On Saturday, August 13th the Surfrider Foundation San Diego Chapter will be hosting a cleanup of the Tijuana River Valley from 9am-12pm. Our volunteers will be working with the Tijuana River Valley Equestrian Association, Oceanforce, WiLDCOAST, Suzie’s Farm, Wild Willows Farm and others for a major cleanup of one of the horse trails that link the cathedral trail and the Saturn link. The Tijuana River Valley offers miles and miles of interconnecting hiking and horseback riding trails that run all the way to the beach. In fact, Border Field State Park beach just west of the Tijuana River Valley is one of the last places in Southern California where you can horseback ride on the beach! This trail has been highly impacted by the large amounts of trash, plastic, sediment and tires that wash through the River Valley during the winter flooding season.
Directions to the cleanup: Central Trail Staging Area – 2310 Hollister Street, San Diego, CA. From I 5 – South, take exit 4 – Coronado Avenue (not the Coronado Bridge) and continue straight (heading south) onto Hollister Street. As you reach the southern end of the first bridge, make an immediate right into the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park and look for cleanup signs.
If you would like to help volunteer for this cleanup or future NoBS projects please contact Dan at dan@surfridersd.org.