San Diego Coastkeeper


Mission Statement

San Diego Coastkeeper protects and restores fishable, swimmable, drinkable water across San Diego County through a strategic combination of education, community engagement, science, and advocacy.


Since 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper has worked to advance sustainable water solutions in San Diego County. Founded with a staff of two to combat the chronic pollution of San Diego Bay that transformed a once-thriving ecosystem into a highly toxic waterbody, we subsequently negotiated the cleanup of 143,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment. Since then, both our staff and scope have grown. We are now a staff of seven and protect hundreds of miles of coastline, creeks, rivers, and bays across San Diego County. Today, we play a leadership role in developing and implementing solutions to water issues throughout the county for the communities and wildlife that depend on clean water. Our science and legal experts identify chronic and emerging water quality issues and engage decision-makers and individuals in practical solutions. Our education and outreach teams work to build a locally-informed conservation ethic in our educators, youth, and communities. We bring sound data and targeted environmental advocacy to conversations about water quality, stormwater management, water supply, and water conservation, and use those tools to inform decisions that impact our communities and our aquatic and marine resources.
Over the past 24 years, we have worked with the City of San Diego to improve its sewage infrastructure, leading to a 90 percent reduction in sewage spills and a 77 percent decrease in beach advisories across the county. We have engaged tens of thousands of volunteers at more than 250 beach cleanups, resulting in the removal of over one million pounds of trash from our coastline. Through our Water Quality Monitoring Program, we have trained more than 1,500 citizen scientists to measure ambient water conditions and collect water samples from rivers and streams across the county. Working to preserve our coastal resources, we successfully advocated to establish state-level protections for 15 percent of Southern California coastal water in marine protected areas. Since 2014, we have provided more than 15,000 San Diego-area teachers, educators, and students with our hands-on water and climate science curriculum at no cost educating about water quality and pollution prevention strategies. After working with the City of San Diego for 15 years on efforts to develop and implement a wastewater recycling program called Pure Water, in 2014 we were successful in securing a cooperative agreement for the largest such recycling program of its kind in the United States, which will reduce treated sewage discharges to the ocean, generate fresh, local water supply, and meet a third of the current drinking water demand.

Program Details

San Diego Coastkeeper is known as San Diego County’s water quality watchdog, and we advance the protection of clean water across San Diego County. We combine community education, data-driven advocacy, and legal action to protect and restore fishable, swimmable, drinkable water in San Diego County.
Marine debris plagues the San Diego coastline causing harm to children, swimmers, surfers, beaches, the ocean, and local wildlife. In order to tackle this persistent problem, San Diego Coastkeeper hosts 24-50 cleanups each year with community partners. Volunteers engage in direct environmental stewardship and have an immediate positive impact on our beach environment by removing trash before it infiltrates our coastal waters. At each cleanup, volunteers record the types, amount, and weight of trash found throughout the cleanup, which allows us to analyze the state of San Diego beaches each year. Additionally, we use these data to educate the public and local businesses about trash in San Diego County, and influence policy decisions that help prevent trash from reaching our beaches and coastline, and benefit our water and environment. We also educate the cleanup volunteers about marine debris, its harmful impacts, and prevention strategies including behavior changes and single-use plastic and waste reduction.
In 2018, more than 8,860 community volunteers removed more than 165,200 items of trash, weighing 11,530 pounds, from along San Diego County’s beaches and coastal areas. The primary types of debris found include plastics, glass, metal, Styrofoam, and cigarette butts, all of which negatively impact the health of our waters, coastline, beaches, and marine and aquatic wildlife.
San Diego Coastkeeper believes that environmental education is the basis of environmental stewardship. We will train the next generation of leaders through our environmental education program and help them become informed community members for the protection of our marine and coastal environments today and in the future. We provide hands-on, inquiry-based K-6 grade water and climate science curriculum to teachers and students to learn about local water quality, local aquatic and marine habitats and ecosystems, pollution issues and prevention strategies, ocean conservation, and environmental stewardship. This curriculum meets state standards and is available to all educators at no cost. In 2018, we educated more than 2,600 students, teachers, families, and community members with this water and climate science curriculum.
San Diego Coastkeeper brings an expert voice to regional policymaking, advocates for long-term pollution reduction strategies, and provides community education. With unparalleled credibility and partnerships, we are positioned as regional leaders in advocating for long-term sustainable water management and multi-benefit solutions to our region’s water quality issues and improving watershed health.
We continue to advocate for pollution reduction, improved watershed health, and advancement of stormwater capture and wastewater reuse projects. These advocacy efforts lead to implementation of practices that reduce polluted discharges into our inland and coastal waters, increase water security, improve water quality, and enhance natural habitats. In addition, this work will help advance smart and sustainable permits, regulations, and policies that will reduce pollution from industrial, municipal, and government sources and ensure discharges achieve water quality standards. By promoting sustainable stormwater and wastewater capture, treatment, and reuse projects as viable methods of addressing pollution issues, we will continue to advance regional policies and projects that support improved water quality and watershed health.

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2825 Dewey Road, Suite 207
San Diego, CA 92106
United States
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