Think Blue San Diego wants love for the city to extend to stormwater

Think Blue San Diego is the education and outreach division of the city’s Stormwater Department.
Think Blue San Diego is the education and outreach division of the city’s Stormwater Department.
(Courtesy of Think Blue San Diego)

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Earth Day may be behind us, but the team at Think Blue San Diego wants locals to “think blue 365 days a year.”

Think Blue San Diego has been the education and outreach division of the city’s Stormwater Department for more than 20 years, offering tips and tricks to keep San Diego stormwater clean.

“We want to keep our beaches and bays clean and continue to be a healthy resource,” said Bethany Bezak, deputy director of the Stormwater Department. “We all contribute to water quality problems, and this is our opportunity to help people … understand what they can do to think blue 365 days a year. It all goes back to stormwater.”

Stormwater, she said, originates as rainfall. But as soon as it touches San Diego roofs, driveways, roads and other impermeable surfaces, it collects pollution. After it flows through catch basins, it goes to canyons, rivers and beaches.

“None of that runoff is treated,” Bezak said. “All those things go right to the ocean. If we are not able to capture all that at the source or stop trash from getting onto the roadways, it causes problems for the environment. We’re causing a problem we need to help solve.”

She offers tips that locals can use in their everyday lives to do their part.

“For example, picking up after pet waste,” Bezak said. “Pet waste contains two types of pollution. Not only do you have the contaminants of the waste itself, but you have the bag.”

Other tips include:

• Being mindful of irrigation practices to reduce the water that runs from yards onto the street, especially if pesticides are used

• Not sweeping yard waste into gutters, which can clog the pipes in the catch basins

• Disposing of trash correctly and making sure trash can lids are secured so garbage doesn’t end up in the gutters

• Properly disposing of car oil and grease

“Only rain should go down the drain,” Bezak said.

Yet 80 percent of the trash that ends up at the beach originates inland and makes its way through the stormwater system, she said.

“We have done a lot of surveys, and people love living in San Diego because of the natural beauty,” she said. “They love the weather, the green space and waterways. That is only possible if we keep the environment clean. If that stormwater is clean, it provides a livable San Diego. It provides a clean environment for us to enjoy. We want clean stormwater and clean beaches. But it’s about cumulative impact of all our actions that is going to make a difference.”

In addition to small everyday changes, the Think Blue San Diego events page is regularly updated with workshops, cleanups and larger activities such as the Creek to Bay Cleanup on April 23.

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