Low water quality reported at nine San Diego watersheds - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Low water quality reported at nine San Diego watersheds

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The nine major watersheds in San Diego County had unusually low water quality in 2015 for the second year in a row, according to a report released Tuesday by an environmental organization.

The continuing drought may be worsening inland water quality, while runoff pollution remains a serious problem, the San Diego Coastkeeper report says.

"Our inland waters empty to the ocean,'' said Meredith Meyers, the group's laboratory coordinator. ``These inland water quality problems directly impact the water quality of our beaches, too, making them less safe to swim and fish."

Volunteers with the group regularly take samples for testing from watersheds like the San Luis Rey, San Diego, Sweetwater and Tijuana rivers. Four were in fair condition last year, four more were called "marginal," while the Tijuana River was rated "poor."

Coastkeeper found elevated levels of fecal bacteria -- from animal and human waste -- which can result in staph infections, earaches and eye infections. Inland waters carry the pathogens to the ocean, putting both swimmers and coastal fish populations at risk, according to Coastkeeper.

"Rain, wind and storm drains bring trash and toxic runoff to our inland waters where it travels straight to the ocean," Meyers said. "Even pollution that begins miles away from the coast can reach the Pacific, where it harms fishing populations and our coastal wildlife."

Coastkeeper also reported that its volunteers found more sites in 2015 with water levels too low for testing than in any prior year.

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