After 200 volunteers helped to sample San Diego’s inland water quality at various sites throughout 2015, the results were surprising. High amounts of bacteria and low oxygen levels were found in the region’s creeks and streams. Each sample was tested for three different bacteria counts, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, temperature, pH, and other measures. “What stood out the most were fecal indicator bacteria, including E. coli and enterococcus bacteria, which flag possible water contamination. These common bacteria don’t necessarily cause disease themselves, but can signal the presence of other harmful microbes that lead to ear infections, rashes and stomach ailments among swimmers.”
The Coastkeeper’s 2015 Water Quality Report was just released in May 2016, and it ranked the various area’s inland water quality as follows:
The county’s northern watersheds — including San Luis Rey, Carlsbad, San Dieguito and Los Peñasquitos — received “fair” ratings. Most central and southern watersheds including San Diego, Pueblo, Sweetwater and Otay, received marks of “marginal,” while the Tijuana area was rated “poor.” (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
San Diego, just like the rest of California, is struggling from the past four years of severe drought. This explains why San Diego’s streams aren’t flushing and functioning normally, which is contributing to worsening water quality. Some good news shows that rainfall this year to date is closer to normal than the preceding years, according to Brett Albright, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
The Tijuana River area registered the worst water quality because of raw sewage and trash flows into the waterway during wet weather. Beach closures have been in effect between the border and Coronado because the water is unsafe to swim and fish in. Data shows experts to believe that the fecal bacteria is coming from community pollution, sewage, and trash vs. seals and birds.
The Coastkeeper’s water monitoring also showed low dissolved oxygen in 31 percent of samples, a sign that the streams aren’t healthy for fish, insects and other aquatic life. Low oxygen levels put the bugs, fish, and all the wildlife that depend on the stream for its habitat, at danger. Read more from The San Diego Union-Tribune.