Surfrider Foundation

Surfrider Expands Water-Quality Testing to Coast of North County

Blue Water Task Force volunteers expand weekly water testing

NBC Universal, Inc.

She waded out into the shallow water where the waves barely touched her knees.

“This is the reason why people come to San Diego,” Minna said.

Sadly, Minna knows that sometimes what’s in the water doesn’t match everyone's expectations.

Microscopic pollutants that can make people and marine life sick, for starters.

Along San Diego County’s southern coast, the Tijuana River still belches toxic sewage through the river valley and into the waters off Imperial Beach and Coronado. It’s a little more deceptive along the county’s northern coast.

“You’re also having so much inland pollution,” Minna said, sighing. “People are putting fertilizers in the soil and other things, and things are floating down the drains. It eventually affects all of us.”

Minna, whose full name is Laura Minna-Choe, is a volunteer with San Diego Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force.

“What we are is part of a kind of warning system,” Minna said as she dipped a clear glass bottle into the water off Del Mar.

Minna's water sample on Thursday was the first weekly sample taken off the North County coast. Volunteers also collected samples off Oceanside and Cardiff-by-the-Sea. They were all delivered to the small North County Community Lab in the back of the Reef headquarters, in Carlsbad. The footwear and lifestyle brand donated space in its warehouse and supplies for the Blue Water Task Force.

Reef also donated paid volunteer time for employees like Jess DellaRossa to work inside the lab. DellaRossa is the co-lead for the Blue Water Task Force. She’s also a digital marketplace specialist for Reef.

DellaRossa took the water samples from Minna and the other volunteers, and tested them for bacteria.

“This is the same standard that is set by EPA,” DellaRossa said as she poured “bacteria food” into one of the samples.

The Blue Water Task Force has collected samples off Imperial Beach, Coronado and San Diego since 2017. Thursday was the first time it tested the North County samples. DellaRossa said they hope to add more locations in 2021.

Each test takes 24 hours to incubate and read.

“I feel like I’m doing something for my community,” DellaRossa said.

DellaRossa said the Blue Water Task Force share all its data with the community and the county of San Diego. It can be used to raise awareness about ocean pollution and also make sure the water matches everyone’s expectations.

“I would rather be part of the solution and actually doing something,” Minna said.

Contact Us