April 1, 2009
County environmental health officials today begin monitoring the water quality of local beaches, just in time for the start of the summer beach season.
The state’s budget crisis had threatened to delay the start of the program, which has been operated since 1999 by the County Department of Environmental Health (DEH).
However, the County Board of Supervisors last week approved a proposal from Supervisor Greg Cox to temporarily fund the program.
Video:Beach Water Monitoring Resumes
“This is no April Fool’s joke – we are kicking off our beach water monitoring program just as the weather starts to heat up in San Diego,” said Cox. “With this program, we will be able to monitor our beaches so beachgoers can know that they can jump right in because the water is fine.”
A total of 60 samples will be taken and analyzed each week from beaches and bays along San Diego’s coastline. DEH will issue alerts and advisories to warn the public and the media about elevated bacteria levels, sewage spills, or urban runoff.
“Surfers and swimmers have come to rely on our beach water monitoring program and we are very excited to get this program going again,” said DEH Director Gary Erbeck.
The state has in years past reimbursed the County for the costs of operating the state-mandated program. Last year, the Governor vetoed funding for the statewide beach program.
However, Supervisor Cox led a regional effort that convinced the State Water Resources Control Board to appropriate up to $1.9 million statewide from Proposition 13 funds for the local programs. Unfortunately, the state froze those bond funds, placing the April 1 start of the summer program in jeopardy.
Recently, the Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to implement a scaled-down version of the program until state funding arrives. It also agreed to seek a regional, long-term funding source for the program. The funding proposal was supported by various environmental organizations, including WiLDCOAST, I Love a Clean San Diego and Coastkeeper.
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