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December 17, 2012

WiLDCOAST's Border Region Ocean Water Quality Workshop a Huge Success!

by Paloma Aguirre

On Thursday December 13, 2012 over 74 participants attended WiLDCOAST's Border Region Ocean Water Quality Workshop, including more than 44 students from the local Southwest High School. A collaborative effort among the office of Sen. Juan Vargas, the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve and WiLDCOAST, the Border Region Water Quality Workshop provided participants with information regarding the processes behind a beach closure and how to safeguard their health form leading experts in the field.

The City of Imperial Beach lifeguard Captain Robert Stabenow opened the workshop and spoke about the necessary synergy among the different agencies such as the Department of Environmental Health and Scripps Institution of Oceanography to determine when to issue a beach closure for south San Diego beaches. He also explained the difference between a wet and dry weather closure and the different types of postings and sampling that take place during the process.

Following his presentation, Keith Kezzer from the Department of Environmental Health described more in detail the elements needed to determine when they issue or lift a closure. He also explained the different elements they sample for, how they conduct field observations when there is suspected impact from the Tijuana River and how they use the Scripps Institution of Oceanography's plume tracker to determine ocean current direction. All of these being elements the Department considers when issuing/lifting a beach closure for south San Diego.

Danielle Williams, program coordinator for the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System then explained how Scripps Insitution of Oceanography compiles all the data they collect in southern California and packages it into products that can be easily utilized for weather forecasting. An additional element that is important in forecasting Tijuana River effluent direction is their Tijuana River Plume tracker which gives real time ocean current direction and can forecast potential impacts from it to as far north as Coronado CA and south to the borderline.

Danielle's presentation was then followed by San Diego Coastkeeper's Travis Pritchard and Surfrider San Diego's Dan Murpthy. They collaboratively manage the volunteer water quality monitoring program that trains volunteers on how to collect water samples from different points in the watershed and how to analize the data. 

At the end of the workshop, Southwest High Shcool students we asked a series of questions to measure their level of understanding of the topics presented. "I learned a great deal from the presenters and the educated attendees. As a surfer, water pollution is a topic that that is very near to me, quite literally!" said Gavin a workshop attendee. 

WiLDCOAST would like to specially thank the Tijuana River National Eestuarine Research Reserve and the office of Sen. Juan Vargas for co-hosting the workshop, all of the workshop presenters and Southwest High School teachers and staff for making this workshop a successful event.