Governor vetoes money used to monitor Coastside water quality

Posted by on Thu, October 9, 2008

The governor has cut funding for the program that monitors water quality in San Mateo County’s creeks and beaches, report the County Times.

County officials learned of the $35,000 budget cut this week as part of a million-dollar line-item veto the governor exacted on the state’s entire ocean water-quality monitoring program, funded on a year-to-year basis through an appropriation facilitated by the Department of Public Health.[...]

State nonprofit group Heal the Bay won’t be able to collect crucial beach closure data for its annual "Beach Bummer" report, which this spring listed Half Moon Bay’s Venice Beach as one of the most polluted beaches in the state for the second year in a row.

Venice Beach is one of the locations that will lose its county monitors under the new regime. Other locations north of Half Moon Bay, such as Pillar Point Harbor and the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, will still receive testing thanks to the San Mateo County Resource Conservation District, an independent agency that recently obtained a one-year grant to coordinate a posse of "citizen scientists" who will perform water-quality tests throughout the midcoast area.

The cuts were retroactive to July 1, and the county must find $105,000 to cover the testing it has already been done.

I wonder if programs like the San Mateo County Resource Conservation District can be expanded and copied in other bay areas. We have to face that under the current economy there are many things that we’d like the state government to do that they simply don’t have the money for.

The example this reminds me of is from where I spend my summers on a lake in Michigan. There we have a non-profit lake association that hires it’s own biologist. He and local volunteers monitor the water quality year round and provide education about the entire watershed.

If enough people believe that monitoring water quality is important, important enough to devote their dollars and their time then a way can be found to maintain oversight of our environment.

What is the basis for saying that Heal the Bay won’t be able to gather the data? That just doesn’t make sense to me. Does the data disappear just because the dollars from the state have?

Comment 2
Tue, October 21, 2008 12:59pm
Kevin Barron
All my comments

This is peanuts… wait until the revenue shortfall really, no make that REALLY hits. County revenues are going to dip across the board with budgets and programs throttled to the glory days of real estate prices, and taxation thereof, much less commercial/corporate revenues (or lack thereof). More tertiary, and gravy projects and functions will get cut. Given the upcoming tax cuts (sarcasm awry), perhaps we can now afford chip in for own private biologist as Nancy suggests.