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South San Diego County Beaches Getting More Water Testing

A beach closure sign is posted at Imperial Beach due to water pollution, Feb....

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Above: A beach closure sign is posted at Imperial Beach due to water pollution, Feb. 13, 2017.

Cross-border sewage spills got the attention of the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and grant funding helped them launch a clean water campaign that will lead to more testing of south county ocean waters.

Massive sewage spills have created a public health problem that appears headed to federal court because several municipalities are suing to stop the pollution.

RELATED: Another Unreported Cross-Border Sewage Spill Fouls Imperial Beach

The new water testing is made possible because of a grant from the San Diego-based group Las Patronas. That grant allows Surfrider to buy two water quality testing labs.

One will be based in Imperial Beach. The other will be located at the group’s San Diego offices.

The new labs will allow volunteers to test water they collect along the shore augmenting what the city and county are already doing.

Surfrider wants to help track sewage flows in the southern part of the county.

"There's a lot of murkiness in the issues, so clearly these people are being affected. They may not be going in the water but they could be getting out of their cars and rushing to go home and not wanting to take a breath of air outside," Ally Senturk said.

The San Diego Blue Water Task Force Program seeks to test the water, educate residents, and to raise awareness about water quality issues. People are the focus.

"They just don't know what to do. They can contact their local officials and attend meets. But we want to help empower them so we have, we're developing a volunteer water quality program where we can train volunteers to actually go out and safely collect water quality samples and get it to our labs," Senturk said.

Volunteer testing will start first in Imperial Beach, Coronado and near the Tijuana River Estuary.

Surfrider officials hope to expand testing to other areas.

The Surfrider Foundation's San Diego chapter will begin organizing testing of ocean water quality off the coast of Imperial Beach, the Tijuana River Estuary and Coronado.

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