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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Green Operations > Standard Operating Procedures for Green and Sustainable Business Operations > Pollution Prevention > Pollution Prevention - P2

Greenscaping California Beaches

Urban runoff can be prevented with greenscaping.

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Solutions for Beach and Ocean Pollution Prevention

  • Protect the value of the beach and ocean by preventing pollution
  • Greenscape with landscaping to prevent runoff pollution
  • Prevent employee and visitor sickness at the beach with green chemistry and reduced chemical waste
Greenscaping – protecting our land-based natural resources-- is critical to the narrow “edge” of surface land that connects upland urban areas with the beach that leads to our Pacific ocean waters and marine habitat. Much of this public property is covered with concrete...which allows rainfall to wash toxic chemicals, soot, and grime into the "natural" water system.

California Beach Economy

California beaches are a major business draw for tourism and residents who need R&R or even food. Businesses can help protect this valuable natural resource!

Despite their importance, our bays and beaches are severely polluted with bacteria, trash, oil and a host of toxic chemicals. In 2005, high levels of dangerous bacteria caused more than 5,000 beach closings or health advisories. Scientists estimate that swimming in polluted water off Southern California's coast makes 1.5 million people sick each year.

Number of Beach Closings/Advisories in Selected CA Counties in 2005*

Los Angeles County: 2,213 (highest number in state)
Orange County: 613
Santa Cruz: 51
San Diego: 367
Bay Area (SF, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Marin): 552
* From Natural Resources Defense Council, Testing the Waters 2006

Runoff pollution not only threatens our health, it also threatens wildlife. Scientists estimate that 90 percent of Santa Monica Bay is polluted at levels that can harm marine life.

Runoff Pollution of Beaches and Ocean

Pollution in our bays and beaches comes from several sources, but the single largest source is toxic runoff pollution. Runoff pollution is created when rain hits pavement and instead of sinking into the ground like it would in a natural setting, stormwater picks up the bacteria, trash, toxic metals and other pollutants that accumulate in parking lots, roads and lawns. This 'urban slobber' then courses through our roads in mini 'rivers of pollution' into storm drains and out directly into our waterways and into the waters we swim in. Storm drains dump so much bacteria and toxic chemicals into our ocean waters that the California Department of Health Services warns swimmers to stay out of the ocean for three days after it rains.

Businesses can prevent runoff pollution by greening chemical usage (cleaners, lubricants, fertilizers, etc), and reducing urban runoff by creating landscape cisterns and grading that diverts water into the ground for natural filtration. Street runoff links to storm drains...which link to the sewer system...and then to the ocean. Everything connects with everything!

Environment California

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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