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What San Diego Is Doing To Keep Pollution Out Of The Pacific Ocean

The San Diego River emptying out into the Pacific Ocean in this undated photo.
San DIego River Park Foundation
The San Diego River emptying out into the Pacific Ocean in this undated photo.
What San Diego Is Doing To Keep Pollution Out Of The Pacific Ocean
What San Diego Is Doing To Keep Pollution Out Of The Pacific Ocean Rob Hutsel, executive director, San Diego River Park Foundation Bill Harris, spokesman, city of San Diego

That seven land flowing into the ocean? Celebrate the life of the sea. Public TV begins a live a special on the life of moderate they today and we will take attention to talk about the life of our own day in San Diego. You learn how people can buy a pollutant that maybe flowing from our own homes. We will give you some of the best barbecue tips as Labor Day approaches, and fantasy football, how it makes the teams -- dreams of fans networks come true. I'm Tom fudge in for Marine Cavanagh, KPBS edition next. From NPR news in Washington. President. Obama embarks on a three-day tour of Alaska this afternoon with the goal of showing how climate changes effecting the United States. Begins Obama renaming North America Alice nine currently called Mount McKinley to his traditional Alaska native name to Valley. Senator. Perkowski a Republican says the president deserves credit for supporting this change. I like to thank the president for working with us to achieve this significant change to show honor, respect, and gratitude. -- To the people of Alaska. The visit comes agriculture time. They know to the Arctic is warming at the rate of the world average however, environmentalists are also wrong about Obama's decision to allow offshore drilling which is counter to -- lengthy delays of the border. Kerry sky reports from Vienna there is confusion over the status of those on board and how many will be allowed to travel on to Germany. As a first chain came there was relief and confusion. The hundreds of refugees and migrants had been forced to wait for hours in searing heat on the border but met with fresh water and food.by volunteers. A few people said welcome refugees. Those wanting to reach Germany, that trains found that this will have their papers checked once more. According to an Austrian police spokesman they might be told they can apply for asylum in Austria or they can be sent back to Hungary. What's not clear is why after camping out for weeks in Budapest Hungary's government suddenly allowed them to leave. Europe's refugee policies and reporter policies are at breaking point. The migrants and refugees keep coming thousands of them everyday. For NPR news I'm carry interest Zana. Official in Thailand have a fish -- warrants for a deadly bombing. Bangkok blasts left dad, more from Michael Sullivan. Was of your old high, her picture shown today on national television. A photo of a young woman wearing a headscarf, a sketch of the man that was also shown police did not identify him by name or nationality. The national police spokesperson said ball making retail westbound on Sunday after police raided an apartment rented by the Thai woman. On Saturday the police made the first arrest in the case. A man whose identity and nationality has not been released. That arrest is believed to be Sunday's raid and the new warrants. No group is taking responsibility for the attack on the arrow shrine in the capital two weeks ago. Was the dead foreigners, four from mainland China into from Hong Kong. For NPR news I Michael Sullivan. The Dow is down 127 point at 16,517. This is NPR news. The war against runoff remains the focus of cleaning the ocean and fantasy football is the key to your dream team and maybe some casts -- cash winnings. This is midday edition on KPBS. At afternoon and face for joining us for the day. Pure some of the stories following at the KPBS is replayed the USS Ronald Reagan is headed for Japan today after 11 years in San Diego. It's one of three aircraft carriers taken part in a homeport swap. More than 14,000 student started classes this day at Cal State send Marcos University officials say the semester's tally is a record high. Includes with a 2200 freshmen and 1500 transfers. And crews have resumed the search for a swimmer who went missing off ocean beach on Sunday. The Coast Guard says a cutter and stop it when out at daybreak to search for 23-year-old Brian Wilson. Our top story and midday edition K PBS TV begins its broadcast of a special live program which continues Tuesday and Wednesday. It's called the blue live and it explores health of the ecosystem so from moderate Bay home to the famous area. According to San Diego coast keeper 80% of its Marine debris in the Pacific Ocean comes from inland sources like creeks and rivers. To mark the start of Big Blue, we will talk about what's being done in San Diego to keep trash and pollution from getting into the ocean. My guest and the studio is rough pencil and Bill Harris. Rod is executive director of San Diego River Park foundation, Robinson coming appear expect great here. Communication department he has worked for many years help San Diego and's understand storm water pollution and is involved think blue pollution the pollution control program. Bill, thank you. Spec thanks. Spec Rob, let's talk about the San Diego River. What kind of pollutants find their way into it? The San Diego River is one of the most populated watersheds in San Diego County. More than half 1 million people live within the waters shed. So you can imagine that half-million people there things Washington River rather a cigarette butts or a piece of paper flies at your car or your transmission leaks a little. Trash of all sorts washes into the river each and every day. The San Diego River Park foundation is really dedicated as a trash free system. Spec was Etruscan from? Was the people but by and large the city of San Diego the urban part that 80% of it that we find comes from homeless people. Being And people who live in the Valley. Spec yeah. The homeless population is along the river. It's a steady number. That's the trashy see. There's a lot of trash you don't say which of the chemicals in the micro plastics and those are things that come from everyday life. Your foundation does a clean up a couple times a year. More than a couple times a year per. The are the people who are out there cleaning the river each and every day. We have small groups of people every Wednesday dedicated hard working volunteers. We also have a large committee cleanup where we have 80 people or 350 people. But if the need is. We organize cleanups. Our volunteers remove hundred and 20,000 pounds of trash from the River. Bill, city now just take hundreds of samples to understand what splitting the waters. What are they finding? Much the same thing. My specifically, the levels of bacteria that are now controlled by the regional water control Board, heavy metals, even some residual pesticides that are no longer sold in the market.? Bicycle tires. Bicycle tires washed into one of our storm drains a couple months and really clogged the whole system. It's that kind of trash that collects other trash that can be a real problem not only for bacteria and pollutant but for flooding. Not a pleasant subject, but fecal bacteria, what is a come from? People who don't pick up after their dogs? It does. We worry about any warm-blooded animal that it leaves placed in the watershed can be contributed to a bacteria loading that makes it all the way to the beach. As you know, storm water in San Diego is not treated. It all fronts to our oceanfront. Anything that enters the watershed upstream is eventually going to make its way down to the beach. Raab, fecal bacteria big problem in the San Diego River? It's better than was. We started back in 2000 it was in response to 34,000 spilled. In 2000, a lot of the place in San Diego really failing. There was a lot of sewer leakage for this city of San Diego has done a really fantastic job of responding to that need. We don't see the sewer spill to use out which was a major source. But we still have broken pipes, homeless people, and people doing things they shouldn't do. Dogs, a lot of different sources of tickle. I want to put happened compounded, it's not to sewer spills, the fecal matter, but even a little bit of that can be the starter, if you will, when you get leaves, branches, other debris in a storm drain that aren't fleshed out immediately. It's a breeding ground for bacteria. Still little bit to start a process that will take a lot of bacteria to the coast. El Niño. Now, what is the city doing to prepare to back Having regular meetings with every department you can imagine, police, fire, streets, storm water to make sure that all of our systems are in place that we really have the extra energy, the extra manpower that we will need. We are doing things like actually trading more people to use chainsaws. It seems unusual, but when trees go over it blocks storm drains or roadways we need to clear them out fast. We've got back in place. We are also expanding our storm trussed system where we predict play people into areas where we know we will have a problem. For inspecting storm drains more frequently. Julia systems in place to address hard scale rain to become. If they do calm, Rob, if they do come, if not the first time that San Diego has seen El Niño season. I think was back in 97, 98 saw a big one. The kind of effect do you recall that had all the River? I remember that. There was a lot of damage, and I would and for such a rotor washed out, a lot of sediment, dirt, if you will, was moved around and uncovered. I remember being in Mission Valley and seeing boats and things like that uncovered and it was because they had been there forever and the dirt moved. We will also see a lot of dirt move into the water and soda water will turn muddy. It will have a prompted to it and we will see that's being carried out into the ocean. That carries with it a lot of pollutants because it attaches to the center. Any major flooding is going to flush out the system and bring a lot of bad stuff into the ocean. It also does good stuff because it scours the bottom edge a lot of the problems they get a strong odor of sulfur. That's related to the fact that the River isn't being cleaned and there's a bunch of decaying leaves and other things at the bottom and those created at sulfur smell indirectly. If we can get rid of that fuel source clean up the river it'll make it healthier. I'm Tom fudge and you're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. Talking about Rob is executive director of the San Diego Park foundation, Bill it's with the city of San Diego communication department. He is involved with the think blue pollution control program. Rob, how has the drought affected the quality of the San Diego River? It's really had a direct impact in two ways. One of those is water conservation which is related to the draft because of policy changes. We are seeing less water coming from the urban communities running into the river. It might sound a good thing, it is, but the river is actually being designed for flooding and by taking away that water piercing part of the ecosystem begin to fail. It's one important issue. The other side because we don't have the flow that we normally what, the river gets stinky. People have smelled it. It is very hard to deal with. It's a dissolved oxygen. You have fish die offs. That starts to happen and people from my perspective start to not like the river and that is a bad thing. We do love the river. We need to address those dissolved oxygen issues. We've been talking that the quality of the river and streams. How do you present aside from reducing the pollutants in the runoff, how do you prevent -- is a way to prevent the pollutants from reaching the Bay? Yes and no. Once a get into the natural system there is no system to kind of, as Bill mentioned, to trap it somewhere or something like that. We have to start at the stores. A lot of the stuff is related to changing behavior much like water conservation. We're seeing the direct impact on people trying to cut the amount of water. -- Young Robbie said to be interesting when we were talking about burn off going into the river and you think that due to water conservation there's less runoff in the River? Absolutely. Water conservation in the city is storm water pollution prevention efforts. We have grown up in the city of San Diego with a lot of over irrigation. We have streams that are supposed to be dried nine months of the year that run year-round. That's all and urban cool if you will. With that's rule comes the pollutants that are on the road, that are flowing out of our gardens. It's taking that pollution into a watershed where it shouldn't even been flowing. Back in the old days it wasn't uncommon to see some guy pouring a bottle of motor oil into a storm drain. We educated people better than that see don't see that very much anymore, but what are some of the things, Bill, that do originate in someone's backyard that they may not know that. I will give you a good for instance. If not -- there were some tree trimming debris near Torres Strait. It washed into the storm drain their there was an initial clog that was closer to the inlet creating flooding early. Mission Hill. The couple of days ago found 400 feet into the system some more of that tree trimming debris. What that does is it carries risks for your neighbors. If you don't clean up your yard, if you don't and down the hatches with Mr. was coming, put a lid on a trashcan, you run the risk of a plastic bag or cardboard that can block a drain and eight flooding. In addition, the least, to eggs, if it's a light rain it will make it all the way out of the system and they will be a breeding ground for the bacteria that we are worried about. Rob, he did add? Major have to find equilibrium and those leaves sometimes are good thing as well. Part of an ecosystem. We also see a lot of mulch everywhere. When El Niño hits, love that multiple end up in our water systems and so will have some challenges with that. I like to think about the plastic bag or the cardboard, it's impact on wildlife and people. I have been out on the river many times people that is a cardboard and there's literally did this under it because I cardboard prevented some might or whatever to work right there. I've seen birds trapped in plastic bags. I've seen animals, fish eat things they should have. Those are the direct consequences of our behavior and our choices. How does pollution affect marine life? Are we talking about making fish sick are we talking about them getting wrapped around some plastic thing? It's all of that. The direct effects of the materials product -- sixpack rings we saw birds get tangled up in. It is also the chemical process, copper, zinc, are deadly for marine life. We have been working with the state legislature to change the composition of breakouts. Every time we touch our break a little bit of dust comes off. Back in become airborne or right down to the streets. When the rains, it washes in. Copper is particularly deadly to marine organisms. Bill, you mention the fact that San Diego is not having the problems it once had with sewage. It's true, and is really not seeing the stories nearly as much they did 10 years ago. Why is that? Is the city actually able to go in and take the hunter-year-old drain pipe -- We have a very tight calendar of replacing older water and sewer needs. You'd don't see the water main breaks as much as you once did which carry pollutants off the street into the ocean. Certainly don't see as much sewer main breaks as he wants to do that is because we're under very specific guidelines to reduce those spells and to improve the system so it's much more reliable. We have been doing that all over town but often you will. Complaints that the road is torn up, that is because you're getting a brand-new water line and get it completely new repaved road once you're there. It's all part of what we do. There's also more eyes and ears looking at things out enjoying the outdoors in places they probably didn't in the past. The city of Fangio has a better monitoring program in place. When the sewer spill happened in 2000 and ran for a week and nobody noticed. Now there is method in place with his instruments recording the sewage flow so they can see when it happens. We have long-distance telemetry but we can see. If there is a power failure you will get that problem. We are doing a lot to improve the system across the board just to make sure we don't have that problem. There's new technology. About permeable pavements? For instance anything like that going on a sandy go? There's a lot of that going on. We have a watershed and water quality improvement plans that talk a lot about that sort of solution. If you put proverbial pavement and you waters able to delete into the soil and pollutants stay there and in the water can flow. You do 10 detention basis. We're doing everything we can to expand what we call low impact development that allows water to flow a little more slowly or flow into an area with the pollutants -- with the pollutants will come out in the water can carry onto its national course. World sometime a bill I wanted you to say something about blue campaign. A lot of people in San Diego are aware of it. With the latest? It's still very active. It's a popular program that the city of San Diego started more than 10 years ago and it is a stormwater pollution prevention campaign. You may understand the duck commercials or the karma commercial that we Aaron regular basis. It's a lot more than that. We are doing all we can to educate everyone in San Diego that they do in fact live in a watershed and that they should come to know that watershed and protect the watershed. We support the community cleanups like those that Rob is talking about and we do a lot of education at that the elementary school level and high school level training the next generation of stewards for the environment and our watersheds. Well, Bill, Harris is with Sandy Goeken medication department and he has spent many years helping San Diego and understand water pollution thanks very much bill. And Rob Hutsell is executive director of the San Diego Park foundation. Thank you Rob. Coming up on Midshipman edition it's a fantasy football . Stay tuned.

KPBS-TV on Monday begins a three-day broadcast of a special live program called "Big Blue Live." The show explores the health of the marine ecosystem of Monterey, the home of the famous aquarium.

According to San Diego Coastkeeper, 80 percent of marine debris in the Pacific Ocean comes from inland sources through storm drains. The debris then runs into creeks and rivers, and ultimately out to sea.

Rob Hutsel, executive director of the San Diego River Park Foundation, said his organization removes 120,000 pounds of trash from the river each year.

"We are the people cleaning the river each and every day," Hutsel told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday. "Whatever the need is that's what we do."

Hutsel said the river is polluted because it's one of the most populated watersheds in the region.

"Ten to 20 percent of the un-sheltered homeless population is found by the river," Hutsel said.

Bill Harris, a spokesman for the city of San Diego, said the trash in the river can lead to bacteria. But it's not just trash that ends up in the river — there's also human waste.

"We worry about any warm blooded animal that leaves waste in the watershed," Harris said. "Storm water in San Diego is not treated and it all runs to our ocean front."

What San Diego Is Doing To Keep Pollution Out Of The Pacific Ocean