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Ocean Monitoring

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Brittle Star Amphiodia

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The City of San Diego's Ocean Monitoring Program is the preeminent leader in studying the effects of our regional treatment processes on the marine environment. There are currently two distinct monitoring programs being conducted. The first is the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) mandated program surrounding the Point Loma Ocean Outfall, which handles wastewater discharged to the Pacific Ocean from the City's Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant. The second is the monitoring program surrounding the South Bay Ocean Outfall, which discharges effluent originating from both the City's South Bay Water Reclamation Plant and the International Boundary and Water Commission's International Wastewater Treatment Plant. The coverage between these two programs extends 120 square miles total-north to Del Mar and south to Punta Bandera, Mexico, and encompasses the shoreline seaward approximately 10 miles, to depths of over 500m (~1,640 ft).

Photo of Monitor Boat

More than 200 sampling days are typically conducted annually utilizing the Wastewater Branch's two monitoring vessels, the Oceanus and the Monitor III. Marine biologists use specialized sampling gear and instruments, a remote operated vehicle (ROV) and dive surveys to collect the wide array of information necessary to define the ecological health of the ocean environment and to identify potential health concerns associated with the recreational use of San Diego's coastline.

Main Objectives

  • To ensure that the marine environment is protected
  • To document changes in the marine environment over time and space
  • To determine the quality of recreational water where citizens swim, dive, and fish
  • To differentiate between natural changes and those that may be caused by the sewage discharge
  • To measure compliance with state and federal regulations