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Since 2017, Surfrider volunteers have monitored and tracked water quality on a weekly basis at 10 different beaches in San Diego. File photo
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Surfrider Foundation opens new water quality monitoring lab in Carlsbad

CARLSBAD — The San Diego County chapter of the Surfrider Foundation announced a new water quality monitoring lab in Carlsbad today, as well as three new water quality testing sites along beaches in North County.

Since 2017, Surfrider volunteers have monitored and tracked water quality on a weekly basis at 10 different beaches in San Diego. According to the ocean-focused environmental nonprofit, the tracking is intended to educate the community about water quality issues and protect the health of the community. The new community lab is based out of footwear and lifestyle brand REEF’s Carlsbad headquarters.

It is the fourth lab opened in San Diego as part of the foundation’s national Blue Water Task Force program, which provides water quality information for beaches in the South Bay, Central San Diego and now North County. The Carlsbad community lab is scheduled to begin operations later in October.

Volunteers measure levels of Enterococcus, a fecal indicator bacteria, in recreational waters and compare them to water quality standards set to protect public health. Data is then shared with the public and county officials.

“Much of what we do as individuals impacts our community and planet, and that extends to the health of our beaches,” said Jess DellaRossa, program co-lead for the local Blue Water Task Force. “Pollutants, as simple as gardening fertilizer, dog waste and small pieces of litter go straight to our oceans via storm drains. This negatively impacts the water quality of San Diego’s beautiful beaches every day.”

The new lab in Carlsbad will expand the task force’s reach by collecting and monitoring samples from three sites north of State Route 56: the San Luis Rey River outlet in Oceanside, the San Elijo Lagoon outlet in Cardiff and the San Dieguito River outlet in Del Mar.

In 2019, Surfrider San Diego earmarked grant funds to purchase lab equipment and testing supplies to be used for water quality monitoring in North County, and REEF Lifestyle assisted by donating office space to be used as a lab.

REEF and Surfrider Foundation have already joined forces to create the Better Beach Alliance, dedicated to plastic pollution initiatives through beach cleanups and environmental legislation.

“Surfrider Foundation and REEF came together in 2018 to establish the Better Beach Alliance so we could help amplify the impact of Surfrider’s national Beach Cleanup program, and I’m proud to further our partnership with Surfrider by supporting the development of this new Blue Water Task Force lab,” said Mike Jensen, president of REEF. “The Blue Water Task Force volunteers work tirelessly to address a variety of water quality challenges. It’s an honor to provide them with a space to continue their work in northern San Diego.”