Imperial Beach dad's bucket list includes saving the beach

Posted at 10:11 PM, May 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-23 01:11:41-04

People in Imperial Beach are still frustrated after a massive sewage spill shut down their coastline months ago. It's not a new problem, but they say it seems to be getting worse and more urgent.

Officials estimated 230 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into the water from Tijuana. The initial estimate was 143 million gallons.

"Many people think we can't do anything about it because it's been around for so long," said Matt Henry. "It closes the beach down for a long time, which is a real problem for me."

Henry is a dad, surfer and artist. Online he goes by the name @ImperialBeachDad and he's using his reach to do more good, asking everyone to watch a five-minute video he hopes will save his beach.

Through the South Bay Clean Water Movement website, people can learn more about the ongoing sewage problem and how to ask their lawmakers to take action. They want to see a federal investigation into the recent Tijuana sewage spill and allocate federal resources to address and eliminate the sewage, trash and chemical waste in the water.

For Henry, the issue is personal. He credits surfing with saving him during a difficult time in his life.

"Later when I'm 35 I start having depression and anxiety like nobody's business, and I'm freaking out. Everyone's telling me it's stress, you have six kids, you're running an organization, you have more on your plate than most people," Henry said. 

He would later find out a brain tumor was causing the changes. Henry says the only thing that could calm him down during panic attacks was surfing.

"You're so in the moment thinking about what wave is coming, and you stand up and you deal with what's coming. And that's what I'm doing now," said Henry.

Since his diagnosis, Henry is checking things off his bucket list, like building a tree house in the front yard. He hopes getting the sewage problem fixed in his ocean is another thing he'll be able to check off the list. 

"I'm going to live every day to the best, and I'm not going to worry what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow," he said. " Because it may not happen tomorrow. I've got more fun stuff to do today!"

Henry says his tumor hasn't grown in the past six months. He hopes his journey inspires others to do some good.