Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Opens New Water Quality Monitoring Lab in North County
Since 2017, Surfrider volunteers have monitored and tracked water quality on a weekly basis at 10 different beaches in San Diego, in order to educate the community about water quality issues and protect the health of all San Diegans. The non-profit organization has now expanded its efforts to the north by adding three new testing sites spanning North County beaches and a new community lab, based out of footwear and lifestyle brand REEF’s Carlsbad headquarters.
This is the fourth lab opened in San Diego as part of the Surfrider Foundation’s national Blue Water Task Force program, which provides critical water quality information at beaches in the South Bay, Central San Diego and now North County. Volunteers measure levels of Enterococcus, a fecal indicator bacteria, in recreational waters and compare them to water quality standards set to protect public health. Data is then shared with the public and local officials in San Diego County to address water quality problems that are often preventative, and work toward solutions.
“Much of what we do as individuals impacts our community and planet, and that extends to the health of our beaches,” said Jess DellaRossa, program co-lead for Surfrider San Diego’s Blue Water Task Force. “Pollutants, as simple as gardening fertilizer, dog waste and small pieces of litter go straight to our oceans via storm drains. This negatively impacts the water quality of San Diego’s beautiful beaches every day.”
The new lab in Carlsbad will expand Surfrider San Diego’s Blue Water Task Force program by collecting and monitoring samples from three sites north of the 56 Freeway, including: the San Luis Rey River outlet in Oceanside, the San Elijo Lagoon outlet in Cardiff and the San Dieguito River outlet in Del Mar. In 2019, Surfrider San Diego earmarked grant funds to purchase lab equipment and testing supplies to be used for water quality monitoring in North County, and current partner REEF Lifestyle assisted in making this a reality by donating office space to be used as a lab. REEF and Surfrider Foundation have already joined forces to create the Better Beach Alliance, dedicated to plastic pollution initiatives through beach clean ups and environmental legislation.
“Surfrider Foundation and REEF came together in 2018 to establish the Better Beach Alliance so we could help amplify the impact of Surfrider’s national Beach Cleanup program, and I’m proud to further our partnership with Surfrider by supporting the development of this new Blue Water Task Force lab,” said Mike Jensen, president of REEF. “The Blue Water Task Force volunteers work tirelessly to address a variety of water quality challenges. It’s an honor to provide them with a space to continue their work in northern San Diego.”
Across the United States, there are 50 chapter-led Surfrider Blue Water Task Force programs, and many more testing sites, which monitor the water quality of our coastlines every week. San Diegans can review water quality at our beaches and bays in real time online.
This Carlsbad community lab will begin operations in late October 2020. For more information or to get involved, click here.
“It’s our hope that by expanding our testing capabilities and educating the public on how our actions impact water quality, we will encourage others to take part in keeping our ocean’s ecosystem healthy,” said DellaRossa.