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Mission Bay Outreach

Help Keep Mission Bay Clean and Safe!

Please join Think Blue in promoting pollution prevention in Mission Bay. Think Blue will once again be out in Mission Bay every holiday weekend this summer (Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day) in order to educate residents and help prevent pollution in Mission Bay.

City staff and volunteers will be on location in the Think Blue booth to answer questions and provide educational outreach materials to visitors, RVers and boaters. The greeting station will be located in East Mission Bay, adjacent to the De Anza boat launch, and just North of the Visitor's Center. The station will also be decorated with educational banners and be supplied with outreach materials and give-away items.

All visitors to Mission Bay are welcome to stop by the booth to learn about ways to prevent pollution and help keep Mission Bay clean and safe for everyone. For more information or to report storm drain pollution, please call that Storm Water Hotline at (619) 235-1000.

Helpful Hints for Keeping Mission Bay Clean and Safe

  • PDF icon Visitors Tip Card
  • Leave your picnic area clean for the next user
  • Tie up trash bags when full to keep birds out of trash
  • Place overflow trash at the park's larger trash dumpsters
  • Pick up pet waste and dispose of it in trash bins
  • Change baby's diaper before playing in the water, and always use swim diapers for infants
  • Never use the Bay as a "restroom"
  • PDF icon Boaters Tip Card
  • Install recycle and garbage bins on your boat. Store trash and food remains and dispose of them on land, never in the water
  • Switch to reusable cups and containers on your boat to reduce trash
  • Never throw cigarette butts into the Bay or ocean. Once submerged in water, toxic chemicals from the smoke in the filters threatens marine life
  • Never dump sewage into the Bay, and please remember, it is illegal to dump sewage within three miles of the coast
  • Properly pump out your boat, and use pump-out locations such as Quivira Basin in Mission Bay
  • PDF icon RVers Tip Card
  • PDF icon RV Dumpstation Locations Post Card
  • Use trash bins and dumpsters or bring your own empty bags to fill
  • Tie up trash bags when full to help birds stay out of trash
  • Clean up after your pet and dispose of pet waste in trash bins
  • Change baby's diaper before playing in the water, and always use swim diapers for infants
  • Use only RV dump stations to empty your septic tanks. Follow proper procedures to prevent spills
  • In addition to the dump station at the Visitor's Center, there are many stations identified throughout San Diego for your use

Program and Project Background

Think Blue continues to maintain its ongoing programmatic focus to reduce storm drain pollution and educate the public on steps that they can take to help. The City has decided to provide this outreach program for Mission Bay as an additional dimension for summer 2010.

The City has chosen to reach out to Mission Bay RV users, boaters, and general visitors during holiday weekends and to observe the use of the Bay. Direct outreach to bay users will be conducted at Mission Bay boat launches, RV parking areas, and special events by disseminating postcards created specifically for each user group with pollution prevention tips for boats, RVs, and general visitors. A second postcard has been created for RV users, listing alternative locations for proper waste dumping, because there is only one operational dumping station in Mission Bay (located at the Visitor's Center).

The Think Blue team is also taking time to observe high-activity, holiday and event behaviors at Mission Bay to improve the effectiveness of future "Think Blue" pollution-prevention education and outreach programs. Volunteers will also make observations and documentation of use in different areas of the Bay, including boat launches per day, daily RV counts, pedestrian traffic counts, and overall observations of the areas. Throughout this program, the City will establish partnerships with stakeholders to disseminate information in their organizations, create a newsletter to be distributed to stakeholders and conduct community-based social marketing efforts to encourage behavior change.


Mission Bay has seen increased pollution due to high beach traffic, boat wash-down pollution, storm drain discharges, and waste disposal practices from RVs and boats not monitored. According to the California Department of Boating and Waterways, one weekend boater or RV dumping untreated sewage into a body of water produces the same amount of bacterial pollution as 10,000 people whose sewage passes through a treatment plant.

Mission Bay is a Federal "No Discharge" Zone, which means that no treated or untreated waste discharge into the Bay is allowed. 5 out of the 7 locations where water samples most frequently exceeded established bacterial safety levels were in the east side of Mission Bay (Wildlife Refuge, Campland, De Anza Cove, Visitor's Center, Leisure Lagoon).

Boats, RVs, and illegal sewage dumping in the bay or storm drains may contribute to periodic increases in bacteria in Mission Bay. Scientific studies have found birds are the primary source of bacteria in Mission Bay waters (67%), followed by unknown sources (10%), canine sources (9%), and human sources (5%). Storm drains are a likely source of bacteria as grassy areas have high levels of bacteria, and irrigation can cause higher level of bacteria in receiving waters via run-off. Eel grass and algae deposits at wrack line (high tide line) and in storm drain outflows helps trap bacteria and encourages its growth and survival for longer periods of time.


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