The Big Dirty

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-44-18-amWest Coast cities do way too little to treat or effectively manage street runoff caused by average winter storms. As one source put it, we basically use the same technology for managing runoff that the Romans did: pipes and ditches that get polluted water to the ocean as fast as possible. This means gas, oil, heavy metals, insecticides, pesticides, viruses, and bacteria from animal and human waste are making their way to our beaches unabated. According to the Los Angeles Times, even super-bugs normally associated with hospitals are making their way into the system. Ocean use and tourism are some of the biggest economic drivers in the state of California. But swimmers and surfers are getting sick, some are even dying. As I found in my research, there are relatively cheap and effective infrastructure solutions that cities could put in place right now. The question is: why accept the current the 72 hour ban on ocean use after a storm? Why not work towards an ocean environment that is healthy most of the time? Read more about in my Surfer magazine article “Contagion Present.”


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