Government

Funding Restored for Beach Water Monitoring

Starting next fiscal year, the County will once again receive funding from the state to monitor water quality in local bays and beaches.

Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill to restore funding for the beach monitoring program along the California coast. Funding for the program was cut two years ago due to the state budget crisis.

“This is great news for all San Diegans who love to swim, surf and play at our beaches and bays,” said Supervisor Greg Cox, who represents several coastal cities in the region.

“With this action, we will have a sustainable source of funding for a program that protects public health and maintains our beach-going way of life,” added Cox, who led a regional effort involving coastal cities and environmental groups to secure temporary funding from various sources. The Board of Supervisors added $128,000 to the County’s fiscal year 2011-12 budget to keep the program going.

Sponsored by state Sen. Christine Kehoe, Senate Bill 482 transfers the responsibility for funding the program from the State Department of Public Health to the State Water Resources Control Board and sets aside $1.8 million for the beach monitoring program.

The County Department of Environmental Health (DEH) has requested more than $300,000 for its Beach and Bay Water Quality Monitoring Program. DEH uses the funds to perform water quality sampling and act as a clearing house for beach water quality in local beaches and bays.

“The program coordinates the sampling and posting of signs warning of contaminated water at beaches. These beaches can be affected by sewage spills, when monitoring indicates bacteria levels exceed State standards, or during other events that may pose a threat to public health,” said Mark McPherson, Chief of DEH’s Land and Water Quality Division.

“Polluted runoff and untreated sewage may contain pathogenic bacteria, viruses or protozoa. Swimming, surfing or other exposure to contaminated waters increases the risk of illness from pathogens found in contaminated water.”

From April 1 through October 31—typical beach season—DEH collects and analyzes 85 samples every week from beaches and bays along the San Diego County coastline. DEH issues alerts and advisories to warn the public about water quality when bacteria levels exceed mandated standards due to rain, sewage spills or urban runoff.

For the latest beach water quality information, call (619)338-2073 or visit sdbeachinfo.com.

 Video: Come along as a County Environmental Health technician collects water at local beaches.