Most people think of San Diego as being a desert that just borrows water to have nice palm trees align with shopping malls, but San Diego does have a river and it’s own native life. Most native plants and animals have been confined to smaller spaces over time. Through the work of activist, some of those spaces are getting bigger and restored. Through organizations such as the San Diego River Foundation and San Diego Coast Keepers, hard-working volunteers and organizers have been fighting to keep our waterway systems clean. At the heart of any ecosystems health is the health of the water which feeds the life around it, and today’s blog we will be talking about the San Diego River, and how it affects our oceans.
The featured image is a popular waterfall and swimming hole that San Diegans enjoy, and is one of the many hidden gems this city tucks away. Often times to even get to these spots requires a vigorous hike with a real treat at the end. However, the closer you get to the city the more you notice the river gets thinner and often suffers algae blooms and pollution buildup. Organizations such as the ones I previously mentioned not only conduct massive cleanups, but they also monitor water-quality to see how we’ve progressed and where we still need to work. One of the biggest dangers that poses a threat to ocean and freshwater life is pesticide runoff, street pollution that goes into the drains, as well as garbage and human waste often left behind by homeless camps.
Solutions are often controversial or will be very hard to get most of San Diego to be on board with reducing their waste, or being mindful of what goes down the drains. Something like choosing biodegradable soap to wash your car or taking your car to an eco-friendly car wash could make a huge impact. Choosing to plant only native plants with no pesticides can reduce water-usage, help endangered pollinators, and ultimately help restore the soil could make a large impact if entire neighborhoods chose to do so. Probably the most controversial solution to another source are the homeless encampments which create a lot of pollution, since human rights are often involved. People need a place to sleep, eat, and use the restroom, and as this city continues to handle the enormous growing homeless population poorly and restrict resources, trash and pollution left behind by their efforts to survive is also expanding at an alarming rate. It poses a common problem as the same people who just want to help, volunteers, are often cleaning up toxic waste. The city will need to figure out a solution that handles these vulnerable populations in a humane way that works out for everyone, but in the meantime, volunteers are still getting up in the early am to clean an fight against all the factors that contribute to the declining health of our rivers and oceans.
How can you help? Sign up for volunteer opportunities with these websites or with us. This past Sunday, one of our staff members volunteered for habitat restoration and park clean up at the newly established San Diego Native Plant Public Garden in Point Loma. Our goal will be to gather more volunteers in the future and protect the natural life and waterways that we benefit from as a business on the water, and humans on this planet.