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Surfrider Foundation details environmental efforts in Clean Water Report

Posted at 3:41 PM, Mar 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-22 18:41:00-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The Surfrider Foundation released its annual Clean Water Report Friday, detailing the measures the organization has taken to improve water quality in San Diego County and quell sewage contamination of local shorelines.

The report gives an update on the organization's Blue Water Task Force as well as analysis of water quality case studies in Depoe Bay, Oregon; Oahu, Hawaii; Palm Beach County, Florida; and San Diego.

The Blue Water Task Force, Surfrider's volunteer water testing group, has increased its number of water tests by at least 12 percent each of the past seven years, according to the report. Task force volunteers conducted 6,826 water quality tests across the country in 2018.

Last year, the Surfrider San Diego chapter's Blue Water Task Force focused primarily on ending sewage runoff into the Tijuana River, which subsequently flows into the Pacific Ocean and affects the county's beaches and coastline.

According to the report, sewage contamination caused closures of Imperial Beach's shoreline for roughly half of each year from 2015 to 2017.

In 2018, Surfrider San Diego established Blue Water Task Force testing labs in Imperial Beach, Coronado and at the chapter's office west of Mira Mesa to improve local water testing efforts. According to the report, the organization's volunteers collect and test water samples each Thursday along the shoreline from Imperial Beach to Pacific Beach.

``In areas like San Diego, California, where communities are impacted year-round by cross-border water pollution ... Surfrider's work to protect clean water is more critical than ever,'' said Mara Dias, the organization's water quality manager. ``Our chapters are tackling regional water quality issues by testing for pollution, building ocean friendly solutions, and informing the public where it's safe to surf, swim and play in the ocean."

Surfrider San Diego filed a lawsuit against the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission last year, alleging that the body has repeatedly violated the Clean Water Act and put the health and safety of local residents in jeopardy by improperly managing the pollution from the Tijuana River.

The cities of Imperial Beach and Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego have joined Surfrider's lawsuit, while the city of San Diego and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra have filed a similar suit against the IBWC. The latter suit is expected to go to trial in April 2020.