September 06, 2006

Surfrider Will Paddle for Clean Water

Surfrider Foundation members across the country will spend Saturday in 'solidarity.' The non-profit organization focused on protecting and preserving the world's oceans, waves and beaches, will host its third annual Paddle for Clean Water. The event looks to raise awareness of beach and water quality while offering ways to minimize coastal pollution.

It will also highlight the foundation's "State of the Beach" report, a comprehensive survey of national beach and coastal health in existence that studies beach health indicators such as erosion and shoreline structures.

Locally, members and non-members alike will paddle out on surfboards, body boards and kayaks past the breakers at Ditch Plains in Montauk to form a "Circle of Solidarity."

"It's not a long distance paddle; it's a paddle where everybody paddles out en mass. We say a few words; it's really just to raise awareness of our oceans," said Tom Naro, chairman of the eastern Long Island chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.

Seaside pollution has many culprits but the major polluters include stormwater treatment plants, stormwater and boat discharges. Topography also plays a role.

After a rainstorm, some beaches in California are closed due to high pollution content, Naro noted. The stormwater carries contaminants — many derived from sewage treatment plants — down mountains and directly into the ocean.

On eastern Long Island, more level land and less development means less contamination. In fact, coastal areas fare rather well in beach health studies.

"Locally, we're not too bad, largely because it's not as developed over here further east," said Mara Dias, vice chair of the local Surfrider chapter, and water quality coordinator for the national organization. "A lot of pollution that might make it into the ocean is dispersed."

Some of the ponds and lakes that don't have good drainage, however, become eutrophic, depleting oxygen levels and killing off organisms, Naro reminded. Stormwater runoff that carries pesticides from lawns and farms also pollutes the local waters.

The local Surfrider chapter, which stretches from the Moriches Inlet to Montauk Point, will convene on Ditch Plains on Saturday at 9 a.m. The paddle out will commence at 10. For more information, go to paddle4cleanwater.com.

Surfrider Will Paddle for Clean Water

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