Chalk artist fighting South Bay sewage spill with art

Posted at 11:27 PM, Jun 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-28 02:27:29-04

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (KGTV) -- A man in Imperial Beach is using art to draw attention to the millions of gallons of sewage flowing from Tijuana into San Diego.

Matt Henry started using chalk to create temporary murals all around Imperial Beach.

“I have six kids seven and under," Henry said. "So this is one of those things you carry in your kind of toolkit as a parent.”

He paints pictures with the chalk of the ocean and beach life, but also of how the pollution affects the people who live along the coast.

“This is the 'don’t surf' sign that we see way too often on our beach,” he said. "How sad is it that I can draw this from memory?”

The latest spill sent millions of gallons of raw sewage flowing into California, closing beach all along the coast for weeks.

“I’ve been sick twice because I thought ‘ah I’m young and healthy and I can handle it,’” Henry said. “The beach is here for us to enjoy and we’ve had this problem now for forever.”

The spill spotlighted the need to fix the cross-border flow of sewage from Tijuana. Henry wants to solve the problem before he runs out of time.

Henry was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and ever since, has created a bucket list of things he wants to accomplish.

He has started using the name "Imperial Beach Dad" to ask everyone to start helping him in the effort to save the beaches.

Seeing the South Bay clean permanently is one of the things he hopes to finish sooner, rather than later.

He puts the website for the South Bay Clean Water Movement next to every chalk drawing, so people can learn more about the ongoing sewage problem and how to ask their lawmakers to take action.

"It’s 2017 now, we can fix it, you know?” He said. "Me with a brain tumor drawing on chalk, apparently it’s getting attention, and maybe a bunch of people will go ‘Yeah we should fix that. What I want to leave better than I found it, you know, are my kids and their future in Imperial Beach.”