Blue Water Task Force, Youth, Ocean Friendly Gardens, Water Quality
May 26 2016

Huntington Beach: detecting problems and offering solutions for clean water

by Paul Herzog

The Huntington Beach/ Seal Beach Surfrider Chapter has really made a splash with its Clean Water programs this past year.  First, the 5th grade students who run the chapter’s Blue Water Task Force lab at Pegasus school recorded high bacteria levels at their Brookhurst Street sampling site in Huntington Beach State Park following heavy El Niño rains this winter.  CBS Los Angeles picked up the students story, providing great media exposure for the joint water testing program and the dangers of surfing and swimming in ocean water polluted by stormwater runoff.

Chapter leaders Jeff Coffman (Vice-Chair) and Greg Goran’s (OFG Coordinator) persistence also finally paid off after months of outreach and communication with the Southern California Edison (SCE).  SCE agreed to transform their power substation in Huntington Beach to meet Ocean Friendly Garden criteria.   Previously, the site was comprised of 36,000 square feet of turf grass that used 2 million-plus gallons per year of drinking water for irrigation and created runoff.

 

A combination of contouring the property to drain water to low spots, creating healthy, living soil to sponge up the water, and using climate appropriate plants (local natives) will allow the garden at maturity to rely on rainwater for irrigation. This will reduce runoff by 90%, decrease flooding and create wildlife habitat. A drip irrigation system was installed to help get the plants established, which in and of itself reduced water use by 65%.

Greg and Jeff, who is also a volunteer member of the City of Huntington Beach's Environmental Board, brought the OFG concept to the sub-station staff initially and provided support and expertise as the project was implemented. In addition, Jeff's company, Clean Green Technology, was hired by SCE to install a filter and plants in the bio-swales to help further remove metals, hyrdrocarbons and other pollutants.

This OFG project was designed by the company Site Design Studio. A great, interpretive sign was installed at the site that highlights the project’s ‘biophilic design’ that supports the instinctive bond between people and nature by mimicking and revealing natural systems in the landscape.  Overall it was a banner year for this chapter.  Check out what they are up to this year on their chapter website.