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Is your wave clean?

You can help control water quality at your favorite break

Foam frothed at the culvert's exit--only 50 or so feet from overhead waves crashing ashore.  The first rain of the season brought its polluted gift to the beach.

It happens every year--thoughtless people upstream pour gallons of soap into the storm drain system or watershed where the water evaporates or sits for months.  Oil dripped from cars and trucks on the roads cook until that first storm arrives.  Then pollutants are lifted to be carried to the beach.

 

Two main systems carry water to beaches around the world: storm drains and watersheds. 

In large urban areas storm drains collect water that runs off roads, front lawns and parking lots.  Despite what you may think, storm drains are not sewer systems that chemically treat water before dumping it in the sea.  They are open systems hat feed directly to the sea.  After the first rainfall of the year (when the gunk's collected for months) you could end up swimming in fertilizer, detergent and other really bad stuff!

Watersheds are geographical areas that drain to a specified point on a watercourse, usually a confluence of streams or rivers.  That fancy definition from the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health web site means simply: if you toss an old battery in a mountain creek many miles from the beach and that creek feeds a river and that river leads into the ocean, the battery acid can pollute hundreds of miles of waterways and your favorite break.

What can you do?  Think before you dump your motor oil down that hole in the curb; watch what kind of fertilizer you use in your yard; call your local hazardous materials agency to report illegally dumped materials; organize neighborhood and beach cleanups.

You can make an impact.  Get your fellow surfers involved...just talking about the issue helps others become aware.

Protecting our oceans is important to all of us.


Surfer tiptoes through froth to get from the beach to his car.  This culvert collects storm water from several thousand homes.