The Surfrider Foundation’s 2022 Clean Water Report points to issues around the U.S., while San Clemente and Dana Point’s waterways remained relatively clean
By Jake Howard
More than 100 million people go to the beach every year in America. That mind-boggling number comes to us from Surfrider Foundation’s newly released 2022 Clean Water Report—just in time for World Ocean Day on June 8.
An exhaustive annual report that highlights the work of Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force and Ocean Friendly Gardens programs around the country, the report collects data and shares information that gives an important look at the health of our beaches and waterways.
The top line takeaway from the report is that out of the more than 9,000 water samples collected from nearly 500 sites, 19% of them revealed high bacteria levels that surpass health and safety recommendations. Meanwhile, 70% had low bacteria levels, while 11% had medium bacteria levels.
“Through Surfrider’s Clean Water Initiative, we strive to protect water quality and reduce pollution so it’s safe to surf, swim and play in the ocean and in our coastal waterways,” Mara Dias, Surfrider’s Water Quality Initiative senior manager, said in a press statement.
“As nearly 10 trillion gallons of untreated stormwater runoff flow into U.S. waterways every year, Surfrider chapters and activists are building awareness of water pollution problems and advocating for solutions to protect clean water and healthy coastal ecosystems for all people,” Dias continued.
And while there’s surely much work to be done around this great country of ours, locally speaking, San Clemente and Dana Point beaches all fared well last year.
Based on reporting information on the Blue Water Task Force’s website,100% of samples collected at the Dana Point Marine Protected Area, Baby Beach, Doheny State Beach, Poche, San Clemente Pier and Riviera met water quality standards set by California State Water Resources Control Board.
The only beach in the area that came in under 100% was San Onofre, which only met state water quality standards 67% of the time.
And just what is the Blue Water Task Force, you may ask? Built around Surfrider’s extensive volunteer network, the program is dedicated to implementing water testing programs, raising awareness, and putting solutions to work.
According to its website, the task force’s labs “measure fecal indicator bacteria levels in recreational waters and compare them to water quality standards set to protect public health.” Focusing on stormwater outlets, rivers, and creeks, one of its primary objectives is to fill in where agency-run beach monitoring programs may miss.
The folks at Surfrider have been busy lately. Prior to the release of the 2022 Clean Water Report, it announced a new global campaign called the “Ocean Needs More Friends.” The objective here is to grow the pond, so to speak, and “rally one million friends to fight plastic and water pollution, climate change and threats to the ocean and coasts.”
“The ocean makes up most of our planet and plays a crucial role in our health and survival,” Eddie Anaya, Surfrider senior director of Marketing and Communications, said in a press statement.
“Unfortunately, this precious resource has been abused by human impacts for far too long. And now, more than ever, the ocean needs more friends to help us urge decision-makers to enact meaningful ocean conservation policies,” Anaya continued.
From sharing messages on social media, to getting involved with the community signing the online pledge and more, there are plenty of ways to remain active with this new campaign. Already putting their muscle behind the effort are Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder, world champ surfer Carissa Moore and singer/actor Jaden Smith.
More information can be found at surfrider.org.
And while we’re still waiting for some consistent sun, summer’s here. Let’s keep it clean out there.
Jake Howard is a local surfer and freelance writer who lives in San Clemente. A former editor at Surfer magazine, The Surfer’s Journal and ESPN, today he writes for several publications, including Picket Fence Media, Surfline and the World Surf League. He also works with philanthropic organizations such as the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center and the Positive Vibe Warriors Foundation.