June 26, 2009

Dan Murphy and Sara Miles from Surfrider No B.S. campaign sat at the Border Action Team Table. There were multiple tables set up to discuss different issues. Border Action Team focused on sediment issues. Chris Peregrin from State Parks was sitting at our table as well as other representatives.

Group Updates:

Border Action Team (Estuary, URS-environmental services contractor)

The permit for the trash nets for Goat Canyon is almost complete. There will be one upper and one lower to be installed September 2009. Currently no Coastal Commission permits that need to be approved to work in that area. Their governing area stops before the Estuary coast. The $250,000 grant pertains to trash nets and may go to other items.

Need a grant for the channel improvements – there is currently a $200,000 grant through the EPA. Potential to use this grant money for study of sediment basins depositing sediment and where to deposit it (Is it safe to deposit on the beach?)

URS is characterizing sediment out of the area near Smuggler’s Gulch. The report (which is currently under review) will help with how to deal with sediment and whether it is suitable to use on the beach or should go to the landfill. Reports for best management practices for Goat Canyon and Smuggler’s Gulch pending as well as biological surveys for the impact of these BMPs. Search underway to determine locations for trash racks. Emptying the sediment and trash racks will be a year to year/storm to storm management situation with the goal of moving the sediment downstream while the trash catches upstream. Disposing of trash and tires at the basin – how much funding does the Estuary actually have?

Mary Salas office had a field study person at the Border Action Team Table.

Clean Up Team: (Coastal Conservancy, URS, Coast Keeper, Regional Water Board, County Parks, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Estuary, TRCC, City of SD Solid Waste Enforcement Agency)

Characterization study being done from border to estuary limits (Bob Scott/GIS is conducting the study, need to get his contact info). GIS completed looking at how much and the types of trash that are on the the surface. The public needs to be informed so there can be a focus on what areas of the valley should be targeted and how to get the trash out. GIS is doing test pits and borings this summer to test the physical and chemical make up to find out if the sediment is reusable or should go to the landfill. $700,000 approved for sediment and trash deposition study that has flexible guidelines and may be used for clean ups. The grant has strong support from Control Board and the board wants efforts like this to continue.

The issue of the timing of clean ups was addressed. First it depends on when the studies are complete and then identifying key locations. Next coordinate with border groups and set up a transfer station for when the trash is collected. Clean up efforts will target trapped, 10 year old sediment that will require a massive digging project. Part of the NOAA grant would be to do sweeps of the valley to pick up trash. All the groups that organize clean ups while well intentioned are interfering with bird nesting season and are risk for contaminants. Danielle from the Estuary volunteered to take on coordinating/educating people on this topic so people are safe and have permission, etc. Potentially make clean ups a seasonal event just like nesting and publicize the windows of opportunity for clean up volunteers.

City of SD is meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers about a $300,000 effort for clean up, need sponsor.

Restoration Team: (Fish and Game/Wildlife, SD Water Dept, Jeff Crooks/Estuary)

After sediment and trash are under control a plan is needed and groups need to come together and make a vision document. What should this process be? Partnerships with agencies involved in mitigation projects and teaming up with agencies that have jurisdiction in the river valley and overcome any points of conflict. Taking into account the cultural affects of digging/archeological sites. The goal for the group is that it sees how the ecosystem is working and track changes and help the ecosystem recover.

Binational Team: (SDSU, Wildcoast, Representative from the office of the Tijuana Secretary of Urban Development and Tijuana Public Services, San Diego Coast Keeper, EPA)

Four proposed projects:
1. $49,000 trash characterization study on Mexican side in response to work the recovery team has done, will be working with URS (that also works on US side) to maintain consistency.
2. Conservation Easements – on Mexican side, protect dumping hotspots and regulate and stop dumping of trash that comes back over border
3. Complement trash nets in Los Laureles south of the border by Urban Development Secretary and Estuary
4. $100,000 Tire tracking study – tracking tires used south of the border to see where they end up/back in the US

Tijuana will match funds for three of the projects: the trash net, tire tracking, trash characterization.

Beach nourishment in Playas de Tijuana – using sediment trapped in basins on the US side.

Tire shredder on Mexico side.

SB167 update: thru assembly onto appropriations committee, bill would allow waste board to more effectively deal with tires and help to eliminate the tires coming back to the US

The $990,000 grant to SWIA will go to pervious pavers, open spaces, tire relocation, roadways, bluff erosion, remove trash from estuary, need to track what is happening with the money/get updates from SWIA

Binational stragegies are keeping the trash at the source, helping Mexico have infrastructure, develop trash and tire recycling, mutually beneficial relationships and joint opportunities for Tijuana/San Diego, establish agreements, develop pilot projects, identify funding

Tijuana is trying to abate the problem with regard to trash collection which is currently not efficient. There are plans to build transfer stations closer to the neighborhoods, a landfill and transporting the trash by rail. Focus on outreach to the community members especially in the colonias and illegal urban developments. At some point there will be a 50 or 100 year storm event that will kill people and destroy infrastructure as there are waste water flows in almost every canyon. Tijuana is seeking from the mexican government certification for clean industry, environmental compliance and environmental tourism quality.