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Perils of the first flush

Storm-water system awakens from dormancy

The unusually pungent aromas blanketing O.B.'s Dog Beach and Mission Bay on a Tuesday morning are enough to tell even the most casual observer that something's not right.

Indeed, these two popular coastal destinations are among those listed as the ten worst areas in which the effects of urban runoff can be observed within the county by water watchdog San Diego Coastkeeper.

"We wanted to create a list that includes a full range of runoff problems that we have in San Diego," explains Coastkeeper water-quality lab manager Travis Pritchard. "It's everything from rivers that cross international boundaries to infrastructure that pumps storm water straight to the ocean to highlight creative ways of cleaning up that water before it has a negative impact on greater water bodies."

He has penned a warning regarding the "first flush," a situation faced by locals several times per year when heavy rain following dry periods forces an exceptional amount of pollution into storm drains in a short period of time.

"Depending on the level of swelling you can see tires rolling down the river, you can see garbage…there's all sorts of sewage impacts there," Pritchard says of flows from the Tijuana River, which tops Coastkeeper's list of pollution contributors around the county.

In order to combat the toxic runoff in the future, Pritchard endorses measures such as residential rainwater capture for future irrigation.

"It saves you money, it saves you water. So that's one of the best things that residents can do for themselves…. Here in San Diego our storm-water system lays mostly dormant. It's only during these few rain events that we really see the negative effects in action."

The Department of Environmental Health has issued a warning regarding elevated bacterial levels in coastal waters and advises against swimming, surfing and diving activities for at least 72 hours following the end of the current rainfall.

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The unusually pungent aromas blanketing O.B.'s Dog Beach and Mission Bay on a Tuesday morning are enough to tell even the most casual observer that something's not right.

Indeed, these two popular coastal destinations are among those listed as the ten worst areas in which the effects of urban runoff can be observed within the county by water watchdog San Diego Coastkeeper.

"We wanted to create a list that includes a full range of runoff problems that we have in San Diego," explains Coastkeeper water-quality lab manager Travis Pritchard. "It's everything from rivers that cross international boundaries to infrastructure that pumps storm water straight to the ocean to highlight creative ways of cleaning up that water before it has a negative impact on greater water bodies."

He has penned a warning regarding the "first flush," a situation faced by locals several times per year when heavy rain following dry periods forces an exceptional amount of pollution into storm drains in a short period of time.

"Depending on the level of swelling you can see tires rolling down the river, you can see garbage…there's all sorts of sewage impacts there," Pritchard says of flows from the Tijuana River, which tops Coastkeeper's list of pollution contributors around the county.

In order to combat the toxic runoff in the future, Pritchard endorses measures such as residential rainwater capture for future irrigation.

"It saves you money, it saves you water. So that's one of the best things that residents can do for themselves…. Here in San Diego our storm-water system lays mostly dormant. It's only during these few rain events that we really see the negative effects in action."

The Department of Environmental Health has issued a warning regarding elevated bacterial levels in coastal waters and advises against swimming, surfing and diving activities for at least 72 hours following the end of the current rainfall.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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