No Dog Beach In Oceanside


Water Quality at the San Luis Rey River

Dear Mr. Johnson,

 Approximately half a mile of shoreline at the mouth of the San Luis Rey River is listed as “impaired” for bacteria by the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 303(d). Under the federal requirements set forth by the Clean Water Act, water quality at this section of the Pacific Ocean must improve to protect beach-goers who use the shoreline for recreational contact.  Bacteria in ocean waters can cause various levels of illness in humans.  Sources of bacteria include fecal contamination by humans, pets, and also some that are naturally occurring in the environment such as birds and wildlife animals.

 The City of Oceanside has been awarded a grant to assess the sources of bacteria in the San Luis Rey River and at the river mouth as the first step in improving water quality.  Once the sources are assessed, the City will then create and implement a plan to reduce and/or eliminate the bacterial sources that are not considered natural. 

 The grant that was awarded to the City to study the bacterial sources was funded by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).  A final report for the source investigation is scheduled to be available in February 2010.  However, due to the budget constraints facing California, this project has been put on an in-definite hold.  In addition, it is anticipated that during 2009 the California EPA-San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (SD-RWQCB) will approve new regulations for bacteria throughout the county that will require all beaches and creeks to be in compliance with set standards within a 10 or 20 year time frame.  This means that the City will be working throughout the next 10 to 20 years on bacterial issues in the areas that the SD-RWQCB has designated as impaired.  The details of these requirements are still being reviewed by the SD-RWQCB.

 In short, the areas that are and will continue to be affected by environmental regulations for bacteria are under a close watch by local, state, and federal regulators.  It is also important to continue keeping beaches not identified as “impaired” clean. 

 More information about the California’s list of impaired water bodies (also known as 303d list) and the regulations that require water quality improvement at those sites (i.e. Total Maximum Daily Loads or TMDLs mandate) can be found at:


 Mo. Lahsaie, Ph.D., REHS
Clean Water Program Coordinator
Water Utilities Department
300 North Coast Highway
Oceanside, CA 92054
Tel: (760) 435-5803
Fax:(760) 435-5814
E-MAIL: [email protected]



Dog Lovers Fight For A Beach In Oceanside

Posted: Dec 11, 2008 04:34 PM PST

Updated: Jan 13, 2009 08:08 AM PST

The last time the Oceanside City Council considered a dog beach was nearly la decade ago, and that time it was defeated almost unanimously. But a local group is trying again to open one at the mouth of the San Luis Rey River, and again they're facing some powerful hurdles.

Gail Jordan and her daughter Meghan travel nearly an hour to bring their dogs to the beach. Del Mar is the closest dog-friendly beach to their Temecula home, and one of the only places they say they can bring their pair of Jack Russell terriers. If Hugh Foley has his way, the Jordans' commute could be cut in half with a dog beach in Oceanside.

"Del Mar is 40 miles away, and to a lot of people that's too far," Foley said.

He heads a grass roots effort in the coastal town called Friends of Oceanside Dog Beach, and is trying to build support. But right now he's even got the city against him.

"You're bringing another source to the beach that is already impaired for bacteria, and we're trying to do this study - you're going to complicate the whole thing," Oceanside Clean Water coordinator Mo Lahsaie, PhD said.

The city recently got a grant to test the San Luis Rey River for bacteria sources after the river was already designated as impaired. They say dog droppings are another potential bacteria they just can't have right now.

"Dog beaches don't pollute - it's been proven that they don't pollute," Foley said.

Foley remains optimistic that with the right support, folks like the Jordans will have a new spot where man's supposed best friends can run free.

"If there's enough people out there that want a dog beach and want to be able to recreate with their dogs, I think their voices should be heard," he said.

There are currently 58 dog beaches in the state of California. San Diego County has three.


The bacteria from a dog beach would be deposited along the front beach
of NCV and southward of Breakwater way. Outflow from San Luis Rey runs
closely along front of North Coast Village. NorthWest swells cause a
gully to be formed from the mouth of the San Luis Rey running parallel
close to North Coast Village sea wall rocks to south of Breakwater Way.
Ask any regular surfer in this area. The water will go from knee deep to
overhead when returning to shore. This combined with the south current
sometimes requires hard paddling to get back in.

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Here are a few links that may help you understand the concerns of pet waste in our waterbodies in Oceanside:

 A general fact sheet from EPA about pet waste and why it can be harmful is here:


The following website lists some pet waste facts and refers to a number of studies regarding why people don’t pick up their pet waste and how it can affect waterbodies.  We will be conducting similar research in Oceanside this Spring with our Pick-Up-Your-Pet-Waste campaign on the San Luis Rey River Trail.


On Surfrider’s website, there was online article about finding the sources of bacteria contamination at beaches.  Scroll halfway down the article list and look for the article entitled, “Tracking the Source:  Where is all the pollution coming from?”  While this was written a few years ago and the scientific tools used to track the sources have evolved, the theory is the same as what we’re trying to accomplish in the San Luis Rey River.


And finally, the reason we’re taking such a close look at the San Luis Rey River and river mouth is the fact that it is listed as “impaired” for bacterial indicators on the Federal Clean Water Act’s 303d list.  The following is a link that provides a brief overview of what the Federal Clean Water Act 303d list is, what it means, and the actual list of waterbodies that are “impaired” for various pollutants throughout the State.  The beaches listed in Oceanside specifically for bacteria pollution include half a mile of shoreline at the mouth of the San Luis Rey River, over one mile of shoreline at the mouth of Loma Alta Creek, and another mile of shoreline at the mouth of Buena Vista Lagoon (shared with the City of Carlsbad):


The website above mentions that once a waterbody is placed on the 303d list, it will then get a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) assigned to it.  This is a very difficult concept to grasp as it involves identifying the sources of pollution, using computer-generated models to allocate how much each source of pollution can contribute to keep human and environmental health protected, and a timeline for the sources to reduce their pollution.  This process can take 10, 20 or even more years and millions of dollars to develop and implement.  Because most cities, like Oceanside, own and maintain their storm drain system where all dry weather runoff and rain water flow to rivers and the ocean, they are listed as a primary responsible party and source of pollution and are required to do what it takes to reduce their pollution from surface runoff including streets, beaches, trails, and property during dry and wet weather.  It is up to each City to inspect and educate businesses, industries, construction sites, public areas and even residences that may be contributing to the pollution. 

Here is the State’s website that goes into more details about TMDLs:


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