California Waterkeepers Announce Plan to Tackle State’s Biggest Water Quality Threat
Today, California Coastkeeper Alliance (CCKA), which represents 12 California Waterkeeper organizations throughout the state, announces the appointment of Sara Aminzadeh as executive director. Promoted from her role as acting executive director, Aminzadeh assumes the role simultaneously as she launches a two-year campaign to tackle California’s biggest—yet largely unknown—water quality problem: polluted runoff.
“We’ve made huge strides in controlling pollution from pipes, but toxic runoff from agriculture operations, the urban landscape and industrial facilities still plagues our coasts, bays and rivers,” said Aminzadeh. “It is a low profile, high-impact problem that degrades the California way of life and our state’s ocean and tourist-based economy.”
According to CCKA, polluted runoff is often considered an issue too complicated to solve, but left ignored, the problem has serious economic and public health implications. Research shows that contamination from polluted runoff at Southern California beaches sickens approximately one million swimmers every year, resulting in public health costs of up to $50 million.
The two-year campaign enables CCKA to organize its locally based Waterkeeper organizations under a single focus, helps Californians understand the problem, mobilizes citizens and engages businesses in new ways. To begin, Aminzadeh will seek statewide permits that effectively regulate runoff to California waters as required by federal and state pollution laws, and enable citizen action to improve local water quality.
“Citizen monitoring and investigation by local Waterkeeper organizations of industrial and municipal facilities helps highlight pollution hotspots, spurs immediate improvements to water quality, and can inform the development of better policies and regulations,” said Aminzadeh.
Aminzadeh’s experience includes advocacy before state decision makers as policy director for CCKA and as a policy analyst with San Francisco Baykeeper. In 2010, she helped launch CCKA’s climate change adaptation programs including work to address sea level rise and ocean acidification. Aminzadeh serves as the public representative on California’s Water Quality Monitoring Council, working to communicate water quality data and information to the public in an easily understood manner. She received a juris doctorate from University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a bachelors of science in Environmental Studies from University of California, Santa Barbara, where she graduated with honors.
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California Coastkeeper Alliance is a state-local partnership with California’s 12 Waterkeeper organizations to ensure that Californians enjoy clean water and a healthy coast. CCKA is a member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance, a movement with almost 200 programs around the world.