Shifting baselines in the Tijuana tide

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Courtesy of WiLDCOAST

So last week I'm watching my oldest grom Israel (13) surf with Zach Plopper on the south side of the Imperial Beach pier. The surf is 2-4' with a south wind and sort of fun in a sloppy new south swell high tide sort of way. But then I smell it and see it--the infamous IB sewage plume. Not just a winter problem anymore--south wind and smell blows in sewage from the outfall pipe on the border and from the sewage river at San Antonio about six miles south of the border.

So one of the many things we've been doing to address this issue at WiLDCOAST wildcoast.net, is to first--identify what the problem is and how to deal with it. Because it turns out that a lot of surfers in IB think that pollution is normal. That the problem can't be solved. That surfing in Mexican sewage is okay because they, 'Never get sick.'

In fact Imperial Beach Mayor, Jim Janney, actually doesn't believe that there is an ocean pollution issue. He said publicly that pollution in IB is an 'old myth.' I guess yesterday's news is old under his definition.

Turns out that the IB Mayor and lots of local surfers are dead wrong. And thanks to our friends at Shifting Baselines shiftingbaselines.org we have a new video, 'Shifting Baselines in the Tijuana Tide,' that addresses the ocean conservation problems from the highly polluted Tijuana River. The video is a co-production of Shifting Baselines with California Sea Grant and University of Southern California Sea Grant, and Wildcoast.

'The Tijuana River is one of the worst sources of ocean pollution in North America,' says writer/director of the film, Tyler Carlisle. 'It's a problem that is currently caught up in a cross-border blame game as the large-scale problems continue to go unaddressed.'

The video presentation is intended to help local conservation efforts communicate more effectively the current situation. Over 60 percent of Tijuana's raw sewage flows directly into the river, through the Tijuana River Estuary and into the ocean. Imperial Beach pays the price for this problem with over 200 days a year of closed beaches and periodically high levels of Hepatitis A measured in the coastal waters.

The video encourages viewers to join local efforts such as Pervious Pavers in an attempt to curb the overall pollution and runoff problem. It will be posted on multiple websites on Earth Day, along with a Spanish language version of the same piece. The project is part of the on-going efforts of the Shifting Baselines Ocean Media Project (www.shiftingbaselines.org), which brings together ocean conservationists and filmmakers in an effort to communicate the problems to wider audiences.

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