By Melissa Parmelee
The San Clemente Watershed spans over thirty miles and three cities. What goes into the creeks, rivers, and ocean within the watershed affects everyone around it, but most San Clemente citizens are not aware of the effect their actions have on the beach that gives our town so much by way of tourism and recreation.
In response to the growing impact of urbanization, the San Clemente Watershed Task Force was founded in 2004, by the late Stephanie Dorey, former mayor of San Clemente. The task force is a grassroots citizens’ group, dedicated to lessening this impact on the local watershed—including the creeks, beaches and the Pacific Ocean. The main goal of the task force is to bring more understanding, support and resources to the efforts aimed at reducing litter and pollutants ending up in our streets, open space, storm drains and beaches. Everything in a watershed is connected, linked in a way that encourages communities to appear, but also leaves every part of the watershed vulnerable to pollution and human activity. We encourage citizens to understand the repercussions of throwing a bottle on the ground instead of into a recycling bin, and take care of the beach we cherish and appreciate.
The San Mateo creek is an important part of the San Clemente Watershed. The creek and its surrounding area contain a large variety of plants, as well as a population of the endangered southern steelhead trout. The creek is one of the last and best habitats for this fish and if steps are not taken to preserve the area around our beaches and San Mateo, the species could disappear. Trails along the creek offer an excellent opportunity to see what the task force fights to protect.
One way to take care of our beautiful beaches is to join the Adopt-a-Beach program. A family, individual or business can volunteer to keep a section of beach clean. Visit twice a month to collect litter and debris that accumulates along the shore thanks to urban runoff and beachgoers. The best way to keep the beach clean is through public participation. Recording the litter found on the beach is a useful method for monitoring the impact the town has on the fragile balance of the watershed.
All hard work is not without reward. The Blue Water Awards are presented by the task force to local businesses and schools that make use of creative methods to reduce their impact on our watershed. The awards are presented at Earth Day San Clemente every April, to recognize San Clemente business owners and their employees for incorporating environmentally friendly practices into their daily business operations.
Living in a watershed means every action, every can on the ground or wrapper on the beach, has a consequence for the environment. Become an active participant in protecting our beaches and ocean. Visit scwatersheds.com to learn more about the adopt-a-beach program and the efforts of the task force.