Written by: Andrew Pate

IMPERIAL BEACH, MY BEACH

I began to surf at 12/13 years old and had my first run in with beach closure from sewage contamination. We were warned about getting sick but if the waves were good we surfed and took the gamble. I remember a day the surf was firing, empty A-Frame peaks up and down the beach. It had been raining a couple days and the wind was lightly offshore all day! My friend and I looked at each other and raced home to get our suits and sprinted back. The water smelled so foul we were dry heaving paddling out, but the waves were that good! I think we only lasted about 3 waves before we couldn’t handle the urge to puke in the tube.  We were both sick with ear, nose and throat infections for weeks after. Then when I was about 26, it was an amazing spring morning, there was a nice sized fun early south swell no one in the water but a few friends. It was foul smelling but bearable. I surfed that session for 4 hours! I was so sick the next day, but I had to go to work I stayed close to the bathroom with cold sweats and all kinds of ill stomach problems. That was the last time I surfed knowingly in questionable water.

I’m a Dad now and my son Wyatt has become obsessed with surfing and wants to go surf as often as possible. It’s sad that at his age when I tell him I can’t take him his first thought is that the water is polluted and that’s why we can’t! In my whole 44 yrs of living in IB the beaches are closed more because of another sewage spill from Tijuana because of a power failure! The problem has become so bad we are wondering why we bought a home near a beach that we cannot take our kids to and enjoy. My wife and I have been debating selling and moving because this has become an issue for our family and a sad debate to be thinking of moving from a town I have lived in my whole life and wanted to raise my family in.

*#mycleanh2ostory is written by local activists who are fighting for clean water.