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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
December 7, 1998


The rains have come in earnest, and like shoppers to the mall, run off is making it's way to the ocean. We should ask ourselves, "What, besides water, is being transported down the storm drains?"

This is important, because surfing has been good lately and a lot of people are in the water.

Although I don't surf, and haven't been swimming off the coast of California since 1986,(this is about the time I started paying attention to environmental issues) I'm still concerned for those that do. Helping to keep me out of the water was news from around the world. Dolphins washing up on east coast beaches covered in sores, sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico with huge growths on their heads, and raw sewage pouring into the Pacific Ocean at the Mexican/American Border, destroyed any desire of mine to commune with the wet side of nature.

After the rains of last week, residents of Encinitas could see the evidence of pollution. As piles of detergent suds built up just north of Encinitas Blvd, Cottonwood Creek carried this chemical soup down to Moonlight Beach 400 yards away.

Currently San Diego Baykeeper is involved with pollution issues regarding storm water discharge in Encinitas and is considering litigation if the city is found in violation of the Clean Water Act. SD Baykeeper is also involved with the city of Oceanside in regards to industrial pollution, Loma Alta Creek, and Buccaneer Beach. Yet, in spite of CONTAMINATED WATER signs and the routine closure of area beaches, we continue to contribute to the problem. We know sewage is being dumped of the coast, after some measure of filtration. We know off-shore dumping by the Navy is still being done, and God(dess) only knows how many unspent weapons litter the South Pacific. Not to mention toxic waste and nuclear subs resting on the bottom of the world's oceans, in particular the North Sea. Body surfing anyone?

"What" you say, "does this have to do with me?" Well, to be honest, everything. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that chemicals move about the environment as soon as they are created, and that most environmental pollution eventually ends up in one of the worlds oceans, if not all of them, over a matter of time. Toxins of all kinds are casually discarded by unthoughtful homeowners, and herbicides and pesticides are used regularly as well. Here in North San Diego County, street and yard runoff have become a persistent problem, because we have decided that fossil fuels and horticultural products are our only answer.

I realize, to most Californians, dead dolphins and malignant turtles don't seem relevant enough to be concerned about. The question is will we have to wait until surfers start dropping dead before we move to action? Come on folks, surfing should not have to be considered a contact sport. While industry continues to threaten us with oil rigs off the coast, they are quietly poisoning the inhabitants of the Pacific Ocean.

So as you go about your busy holiday season, consider the pollution created to produce your holiday rituals. Consider the true cost of the consumer goods you faithfully buy. And most importantly, as you sit in holiday gridlock, consider the environment.

The surfing community will thank you.

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