From recent sewage spills in Morro Bay to unmanaged water testing in Pismo Beach, local surfers and beach goers are worried about the current state of our oceans.

At Cal Poly, a group who cares about these issues is now voicing their concerns in the officially chartered sub-chapter of the San Luis Bay Surfrider Foundation.

Group president and environmental management junior Colin Nicol and vice president and nutrition junior Lindsey Mitchell came up with the idea to start a Surfrider group on campus.

“It was pretty cool when we both realized we had the same idea and there are so many people who want to get involved,” Mitchell said.

Nicol feels that the Surfrider Foundation is not just for surfers, but it is for anyone who loves the beach.

The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit environmental organization whose mission is to protect and enjoy the world’s oceans, waves and beaches for the employment of all people, through conservation, activism, research and education.

Since becoming a new group, they have been volunteering at local Surfrider events and benefit shows and plan on hosting beach clean-ups and education on watersheds.

“Public outreach is important because most people do not know that creeks run into (the) ocean,” Nicol said.

“We are starting to work with Kim Busby, the water quality specialist on campus,” Mitchell said. “We have decided together that we are going to work on community outreach and education. One out of three students are surfers on campus; this club will help gather everyone together.”

Surfers and locals who love the beach have had a lot to deal with in the past few weeks. The Pacific Ocean has recently had a murky brown tint due to all the run-off from the rain. On Jan. 27, a 20,000 gallon spill of untreated sewage from the Men’s Colony Wastewater Treatment Plant ran into Chorro Creek, creating a huge impact on the ecosystem in Morro Bay.

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department quarantined the entire area from Morro Rock to the southern end of the bay, restricting all sport-harvested bi-valve shellfish from the Morro Bay Estuary for a couple of weeks.

Locals are also worried about the number of samples taken 20 twenty locations by Environmental Health Services. According to the San Luis Obispo County Web site, weekly samples are looking for three types of indicator bacteria which at sufficient concentrations indicate the potential presence of bacteria that may cause human illness and a health advisory will be announced if these are present.

Even though the results are compared to standards established by the state of California, Nicol said that more testing is needed.

The Cal Poly group’s proactive stance on the issue is apparent since they are petitioning for more water testing near Pismo Beach. They received almost 150 signatures during UU Hour last Thursday.

Though the group just recently formed, members are also thinking about sponsoring an alternative energy boat, which will promote alternative energies in the future when the boat docks in San Luis Obispo County later this quarter.

Cal Poly Surfrider is also an active and voting member of the Empower Poly Coalition, a group made up of sustainable clubs on campus.

There are many students involved with the club; the group has five other board members, even including what Nicol and Mitchell call a “web ninja.”

“Right now we are trudging through unchartered water,” Nicol said of the group.

Surfrider plans on kicking off their group with a showing of the movie “Sipping Jet Streams,” at the end of February, an event that Nicol hopes will “gather the masses.”

The local chapter will also host Stoke Fest ’08 at the Old Vienna Restaurant in Shell Beach from 6 to 11 p.m. on Feb. 23. Featured music will include Mrs. Brown, Chancho and Ku Dog Karl.

“We are going to keep (Cal Poly Surfrider) pretty light-hearted for now,” Mitchell said.

“But we need to take care of the place we love the most . for me, this is the ocean. My life revolves around it.”

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