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Is Mission Bay gross? Experts weigh in

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SAN DIEGO – Mission Bay is one of San Diego’s most popular destinations for both locals and tourists, despite its reputation of having poor water quality.

San Diego Coastkeeper, a nonprofit organization that advocates for clean water throughout San Diego, held a public forum Tuesday to answer “Is Mission Bay gross?”

Mission BayIn 2000, a 34 million gallon sewer spill caused Mission Bay to have 1,480 beach closures that year.

The spill and pressure from the public forced the city to take action. It revamped San Diego’s sewage system and began to focus on watershed.

“The city has a special program where it collects the water during dry weather and diverts it to our sewer system,” said Witkowski.  “That way run off from our lawns doesn’t actually go into the bay.”

But despite more than a decade of major changes made by the city, people are still asking, “Is Mission Bay gross?”

In 2012, there were seven beach closures in Mission Bay and experts said that number speak volumes.

“After rain, it can be gross from our urban off, from our streets being washed into the water,” said Jill Witkowski, water keeper for the San Diego Coastkeeper. “But for the most part, it’s really been cleaned up.”

It’s important for residents do their part, by keeping their yards and street clean so that when it rains, the debris will not end up in the bay, according to Witkowski.

Johne Chandler first started teaching kite surfing at Mission Bay in the 1990s, he said the bay’s nickname was Stinky’s.  Chandler said the closures had an impact on his business and other businesses in the area.

“I remember getting sick a few times and wondering if it was the water quality,” said Chandler, who got Hepatitis A and B vaccinations so he wouldn’t get sick. “There were certainly days when I had to tell students, ‘I am not going out today.’”

On Tuesday night, Chandler said he was thrilled by the changes at Mission Bay.

“I can’t even remember the last day when this beach has been closed,” he said.

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