DEL MAR — Leaders of San Diego youth soccer organizer Surf Cup Sports have been cited for illegally redirecting stormwater at their property just north of the soccer fields along Via de la Valle and into environmentally sensitive areas leading to the San Dieguito River.
On March 16, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a violation notice to Surf Real Estate, Surf Cup Sports and Surf Del Mar One — all limited liability companies registered to Surf Cup vice president Rob Haskell — for illegally pumping dirty water on their property at 3975 Via de la Valle in December and January.
The notice also included a citation for channeling stormwater via a constructed trench through a marsh area running directly along El Camino Real at the west end of the property that leads to the river.
The affected area, known as a swale, included sensitive wetland plant species and is owned by the 22nd District Agricultural Association.
Surf Cup purchased the 24-acre site known as the Milan property last year, using it partly as a parking lot and keeping it otherwise vacant. It borders the Del Mar polo fields directly south, which Surf leases from the city of San Diego for youth soccer operations, and is considered to be protected wetlands.
“Given the historical use of [the site] as a vehicle parking lot, the stormwater runoff for the parcel likely contains pollutants such as metals and vehicle fluids like fuel and lubricants,” the notice stated.
Discharging water in this manner constitutes a violation of the Clean Water Act, as it leads to pollutants entering the wetland habitat and the San Dieguito River and causing potential harm to aquatic life, the board said.
A Surf representative said the property filled with water as a result of heavy rains this past winter, and that they are working with the regional water board to bring their operations in line.
“That had to do with the terrific amounts of rain that we received a few weeks back, and we were trying to figure out what to do with it. That property just gets hammered, because it’s at the bottom of the hill, and it just gets everybody else’s water,” the representative said. “The violations are something we have to deal with, and mistakes that we made, and we’re fixing them … it’s all moving forward positively.”
The regional board learned about the situation from members of the public as well as the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which also owns the Del Mar Horsepark across El Camino Real and complained via the California Department of Justice.
“The 22nd District Agricultural Association was made aware of the stormwater pumping onto its land in January 2023. The District takes environmental stewardship very seriously and is working with the Regional Water Quality Control Board to ensure a resolution and full compliance in this matter,” said 22nd DAA spokesman Tristan Hallman.
This marks the second time that Surf Cup leaders have been instructed to stop illegally redirecting water onto 22nd DAA property. Back in 2019, the state Attorney General’s Office Surf Cup issued Surf Cup a cease-and-desist letter for pumping stormwater into the river from the polo fields they currently lease.
Surf was first cited for a lack of erosion control measures and stormwater “best management practices” on the Milan property back in October by the City of San Diego.
In a civil penalty from the city’s code division, Surf was instructed to “eliminate the potential for a discharge of sediments and other pollutants in and adjacent to native habitat and properties” and to also cease unpermitted grading on the site.
Just months earlier in May 2022, the city had issued a penalty to Surf for unpermitted grading and filling on the Milan property as well as allowing tournament parking onsite.