WARNING: City of Coronado Endangers Surfers / Swimmers After Rainfalls

Warning to all surfers, swimmers, visitors and tourists who enter the water at Coronado’s beach breaks. The County of San Diego recommends that you stay out of the water for 72 hours after rainfall ends (see PDF file). You can see coastal risks and learn more at the County of San Diego Beach Water Quality website.

There are serious reasons for following these advisories from the County. Take for example the recent death of this Sunset Cliffs local surfer.

Some may not like the title of this post but it is true and accurate. While we would like to think that the City of Coronado cares, their actions speak louder than words. Last year Coronado Clean Beach members met with City Parks & Rec. Supervisors and past City Engineer Matt Little to discuss sorely needed procedures when rainfall occurs. City Council and City Management knew of this informal meeting.

Generally speaking, we have two effluent systems on Coronado—sewage and storm drain.  Technically raw sewage stays in the sewer pipe and is pumped to Point Loma, however the storm drain catch basins we are talking about in this article are never pumped unless we have “flooding” or a rainfall of .1 inch or greater.

Currently, it is the City’s practice to Force Majeure pump roughly 132,000+ gallons of raw effluent that sits in the storm drains in the Country Club Estates area when rainfalls occur. Yes, you are reading this correctly… when it rains they will intentionally turn on the pump adjacent to Dog Beach to discharge directly onto the beach and into the ocean effluent that sits stagnant for long periods of time in the storm drain catch basins of the Country Club Estates area.

This water  may percolate for months with dog feces, leafs, road oils, fertilizer (man made or natural), dead animals, car chemicals in it all causing a highly contaminated condition including breeding mosquitoes that potentially carry West Nile virus. The beach storm drain outfalls from East to West are: North Beach, Pine Street, G Avenue, Loma Avenue, South Beach RH Dana & Ocean Blvd.

Not only is the Coronado Ave storm drain catch basin system pumped but the other systems are known to be dumped onto the beach as well, potentially totaling upwards of 300,000+ gallons of raw effluent. Now, we don’t exactly know the frequency and breadth of this alternate discharge, but is does occur without posting of signs that would warn the public.

Coronado Clean Beach members have brought this issue up to Coronado City Council Leaders many times. In brief, the effluent in the Country Club Estates is created by the natural Artesian spring found roughly at the area separating Coronado from the Naval Base in that residential area. Now we’re not going to go into that sub-issue at length here, suffice it to say that it is the cause of the storm drain system water in that area to constantly fill up to heights level with the street—just go visit the storm drains at Acacia and Coronado Ave any day of the week to see what we mean. They fill back up within 24 hours after the City of Coronado does their sly Force Majeure.

Over one of our last big rains that started Feb 12th 2014, the general advisory went into effect after the rain but on the 15th a far more stronger condition of “avoid water contact” was posted on SDBEACHINFO because of the TJ River and raw sewage (human) was flowing on that day and contaminating all of the Silver Strand including Coronado. Note, Ave Del Sol is the sampling point for the County along with a couple others going down to Imperial Beach.  It was not until 5-7 days after the 15th that the County lifted the stronger condition having sampled the water daily. But Coronado never posted the beach at any time from the 12th to almost the 21st, and should have from the 15th forward.  People were swimming during this period but no announcement was made from the beach.

The main message here is to stay safe and follow San Diego County advisories because the City of Coronado does not adequately post signs when they knowingly pump effluent onto the beach from these pump stations, or when there is hazardous effluent drifting up to Coronado from the TJ River. The meeting with City Directors was to get them to understand that they need to be doing more for the safety of the Public, they agreed it was a good idea. Matt Little is no longer there and we believe that the ‘baton’ did not get passed along. However, there were / are others in the know and a safer practice for the Public is still not being implemented.

So we ask that you be aware of this regular practice by the City of Coronado when it rains, and follow the County’s recommendations, and especially so when Coronadoans are so close to the Tijuana Sloughs. When you visit  the County of San Diego Beach Water Quality website you will see what we mean.

We also ask the City of Coronado to finally put in place a standing order protocol to put up warning signs each time they turn on the pump stations or when San Diego County advisories occur for the region so closely tied with the Tijuana River Estuarine Environment. Not doing so only puts surfers and swimmers at risk. In addition, TOURIST/VISITORS have no idea about the 72 hour recommendation and as a city that reaps heaps of money from them we believe that we should be mindful of their health.

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