Profile: Rick Wilson
Sr Staff Scientist, Surfrider Foundation
I had been surfing in southern California for about two decades when I saw a notice in Surfer Magazine in 1985 for a new surfer-based environmental organization to protect the oceans, waves and beaches. I joined and I've been a member ever since.
My working career as a chemical engineer, meanwhile, was evolving from 'process engineering' to environmental engineering and from working for industry to working for environmental consulting firms.
It all came together in 2002 when Surfrider posted a job offering for someone to research and write the State of the Beach report.
The job expanded to include water quality issues, writing many Coastal A-Z (now Beachapedia) articles and involvement with many other issues and initiatives including our Not the Answer campaign and the Rise Above Plastics and Know Your H2O programs.
Finally, over 30 years after college, I have found my dream job!
NoteStreams By Rick Wilson
The work of numerous activists with Surfrider's San Diego County Chapter over a period of many years paid off on November 18, 2014 when the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to approve Pure Water San Diego, a program which will significantly reduce wastewater discharges to the ocean and produce 83 million gallons per day (mgd) of high quality drinking water.
Recently, I was interviewed by Jake Howard of Surfline regarding the health risks of surfing after a rain. I repeated the standard Health Department warning to stay out of the water for 72 hours due to the mass of pollutants (including human and animal fecal matter) that can wash off the land and streets, into storm drains and rivers and then directly to the ocean after a rain. We know that dirty water can't be good for you, but how bad is it? What kind of diseases can it cause? Will you be sick for a day or longer? What are the odds?
Surfrider is very concerned about the problem of plastics in the ocean. Plastics kill or injure large numbers of seabirds, fish and marine mammals through entanglement and ingestion. A recent report was released by scientists at 5 Gyres that estimated 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing 268,940 tons are currently floating at sea. We have to address the problem at the source by using less plastics (Reduce or Refuse), then Reuse any remaining plastic materials as many times as possible, and Recycle the rest.