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Monday, January 26, 2009

Surfrider Foundation Challenges Carlsbad Ocean Desalination Permit

The contentious plan to build a massive ocean desalination on the Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad, California has been challenged in court. Surfrider Foundation, as lead plaintiff, claims approval by the Coastal Commission to build the largest ocean desalination facility in the western hemisphere violates California law because it was not designed or located to avoid the unnecessary destruction of marine life.

Open water intakes, like that proposed in Carlsbad, have been shown to suck in and kill all stages of marine life, significantly impacting healthy marine ecological systems. The project is also extremely energy demanding: stretching our current electrical supplies and undermining California’s efforts to curb global warming. According to Joe Geever, Surfrider Foundation’s California Policy Coordinator, “Healthy marine life populations are already threatened by pollution and impacts from climate change. This project would constantly ‘fish’ the water surrounding the intake and require approximately 40% more electricity than pumping water all the way from the Sacramento Delta – our most energy demanding current source of water.”

Surfrider and other environmental organizations have supported ocean desalination research and pilot projects to reduce the enormous energy demand and to test intake systems that avoid marine life mortality. That research has already shown signs of success. Geever summarizes their support for research with their opposition to this particular project: “Whether or not you support the idea of ocean desalination, it has to be done responsibly and according to the law. Responsible desalination may be right around the corner, but this proposal isn’t even close.”

In the meantime, there is a growing consensus in the environmental community and research institutes that alternatives including expanded water conservation programs, wastewater recycling, and a host of rainwater retention practices can accommodate foreseeable freshwater demand. Importantly, these options have the added benefits of reducing water pollution, dramatically cutting back energy use, and restoring our coast and ocean habitat.

Surfrider Foundation’s attorney, Marco Gonzalez of Coast Law Group, is quick to point out, “Our client is not an overly litigious group. They’ve gone the extra mile to advance sustainable and environmentally responsible water supply alternatives. But they won’t stand by while the laws created to protect our coast and ocean are blatantly ignored by the agencies responsible to enforce them.”

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (JOCI) Report to Local & State Leaders

Jan 15, 2008 - A national report was released today to West Coast local and state elected officials with specific recommendations to better protect our oceans and coasts click here. Released by the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (JOCI), a national bipartisan voice for ocean policy reform, the Report 'One Coast, One Future' identifies priority actions for elected officials to promote the health of coastal and ocean ecosystems, which our West Coast communities depend on. The reports recommendations address a number of priorities of Surfrider Foundation including: water quality; shoreline preservation; marine debris; nearshore science; stakeholder/ community participation; and ecosystem-based management.

Requested by 19 elected officials from California, Oregon and Washington State, the report provides a fantastic opportunity to engage key decision-makers in ocean and coastal stewardship. Please think about the local & state elected officials that you know that would be interested in this report – and then share with them through any means possible!

'Protecting our oceans and coasts starts at the local level,' said Leon E. Panetta, co-chair of the Joint Initiative and former White House Chief of Staff. 'We are pleased to see so much interest in finding solutions to the critical problems facing our oceans and coasts. The Joint Initiative has provided the input that will lead to meaningful ocean policy reform at the state and local level,' Panetta continued.

For more info on the initiative how to get involved with outreach to your community leaders please contact pstauffer@surfrider.org.

Friday, January 09, 2009

An Aussie reflection on surfing and marine conservation in Rincón, Puerto Rico

Geoff Elliot, The Australian's Washington correspondent, describes the impact of surfing on Puerto Rico.

"As it happens, I've returned to Puerto Rico this month...I'm drawn to the place. And, sure, it may have changed, but the influx of tourist dollars hasn't been an entirely bad thing.

Surf tourism - along with the rise of the eco-tourism associated with the magnificent sea turtles, migrating humpbacks and shipwrecks in the area - is a testament to the area's beauty and power.

It has helped put Tres Palmas on the conservation list, making it Puerto Rico's first marine park, in an effort championed by the Surfrider Foundation.

Who would have thought surfers would unite to protect this treasure from any would-be pirates of the Caribbean?"


Tres Palmas, Rincón, Puerto Rico
Photo: Steve Fitzpatrick

Monday, January 05, 2009

Dolphin Stampede!

Check out this great video that was sent to us here at Surfrider. It was shot in the Sea of Cortez. Just amazing!