Coronado’s Emerald Keepers Are Helping to Clean Up Southern California

Coronado's Emerald Keepers a helping to clean up Southern California
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Coronado’s Emerald Keepers a helping to clean up Southern California. Image: Jamie D’Souza

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Coronado’s Emerald Keepers are helping to clean up Southern California.

Across the bay from San Diego is a resort city called Coronado. Nicknamed the Crowned City (from the Spanish for crowned), Coronado is famous for the Hotel Del Coronado, one of the world’s top resorts, white sandy beaches, and vibrant history.

Although voted one of the best beaches in California, Coronado Beach has recently faced some issues surrounding contamination and pollution. One of the main issues is defunct wastewater facilities from across the border in Mexico, which cause about 35 million gallons of raw sewage to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean daily. In 2023 alone, Coronado Beach was closed to swimmers for more than 120 days due to the increase in sewage. The US federal government is investing $300 million to double the capacity of the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant, and Mexico has agreed to invest $144 million. The plant is expected to be fixed by 2027.  

While governments are working to fix water quality problems for beachgoers and surfers, a local organization called Coronado’s Emerald Keepers is working to improve some of the issues happening on land. Emerald Keepers is the only civic, non-profit organization in the City of Coronado. They are a group of volunteers whose goals are to address the local needs related to environmental stewardship and sustainability as well as to serve as a model for other communities. The Emerald Keepers are working to keep the beaches clean and reduce the pollution from entering the waterways, as well as establishing a greener and cleaner Coronado.  

Coronado’s Emerald Keepers have successfully implemented many initiatives, including educating people about sustainable practices, eliminating single-use plastics, organizing beach cleanups, establishing education signs all through the county, involving youth to take action, and more In collaboration with National Geographic, they have developed the Marine Debris Tracker App The app allows visitors to the beach can also take part in individual beach cleans and track everything they’ve picked up, and where these items were found With the help of citizen scientists and collecting open data, this information can generate scientific findings, inform policy, and inspire upstream design. 

Coronado’s Emerald Keepers have also successfully acquired marine skimmers to reduce water pollution. The skimmers are designed to remove floating debris, surface pollutants, and oil sheen from the water’s surface. The marine skimmers clarify the water through aeration. Coronado’s Emerald Keepers currently have three skimmers but are looking forward to having more in their waters.

Other initiatives include the Emerald Green and Ocean Blue initiatives, which encourage local businesses and restaurants to take action by offering paper bags only, banning plastic water bottles, following best recycling practices, encouraging reusable containers, etc. All restaurants and businesses that follow these practices receive a certified Emerald Green Ocean Blue sign for their windows. Over 40 businesses and restaurants have been certified so far.  

As of June 2023, the City Council of Coronado voted to move forward with all 12 of the proposed actions by Coronado’s Emerald Keepers, which include electrifying the city fleet, initiating a Green Building recognition program, expanding bike parking, designing a citywide plan to install public EV charging infrastructure, putting solar on city buildings and more.  

It’s community initiatives like the ones discussed that demonstrate that positive environmental change is possible. Coronado is known for its beaches and attracts tourists from all over the world to experience them. Without the efforts of the Emerald Keepers, this area may no longer exist or hold the same value as it does now. Coronado’s Emerald Keepers is an excellent example of how we can create more sustainable and greener areas and the power that communities have to achieve these goals. 

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