Asserting that California needs "body scans, not portraits" of its economically and environmentally critical wetlands and coasts, top scientists from San Diego's foremost research institutions will make a case for that process at one of the region's most environmentally and politically challenging venues - the Tijuana River estuary.
On Thursday, Oct. 4 at 10:30 a.m., California Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Tom Torlakson and others will get a first-hand glimpse of futuristic monitoring proposed for the Tijuana River Watershed (TRW) in a tour and demonstration at the Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center at 301 Caspian Way, Imperial Beach, California.
Researchers from San Diego State University (SDSU) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego will make a case for "RiverNet," a high-tech series of sensors that would report in real-time and near real-time virtually every environmental indicator associated with the Tijuana River Estuary, its upstream watershed and adjoining beaches and coastal waters. Reporting and understanding these indicators are considered fundamental to preserving wetlands, improving water quality, limiting beach closures and planning for the future.
The data flow from RiverNet would be integrated as it is received (in "real time") by high-speed computers and reported back to policymakers, regional stakeholders and a worldwide research community in terms and data sets useful to each.
SDSU lead scientist Paul Ganster views RiverNet as a "critical initiative that will provide scientific data to support the policy community and the public as these stakeholders make 'generational' decisions that will influence quality of life in the watershed for years to come." Ganster said the project could be the foundation for collaboration across the international boundary that is needed to protect the health of the watershed, the estuary and the beaches.
The scientists hope to win support for the approximate $4.5 million, three-year project, from agencies overseeing voter-approved Proposition 84 bond money.
According to John Orcutt of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, real-time data "is essential for predicting or anticipating problems after a major event such as a large storm or changes in offshore currents that distribute contaminants north or south of the Tijuana River." He said the sensors would also signal problems within the network area that could be immediately addressed or repaired.
The scientists providing the demonstration, including John Kim and Pablo Bryant of SDSU Field Stations Program, cited San Diego Port Commissioner Robert "Rocky" Spane for his "encouragement through vision" in taking the lead in establishing a new, "beyond compliance" Port Environmental Fund, which is contributing heavily to scientific research and monitoring in neighboring tidelands and the San Diego Bay. Ganster said he is hopeful that California's bays, estuaries and coasts will be seen as living, interdependent and priceless assets "at once by scientists, lawmakers and the public."
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San Diego State University is the oldest and largest higher education institution in the San Diego region. Since it was founded in 1897, the university has grown to offer bachelor's degrees in 81 areas, master's degrees in 73 areas and doctorates in 16 areas. SDSU's approximately 35,000 students participate in an academic curriculum distinguished by direct contact with faculty and an increasing international emphasis that prepares them for a global future. For more information, visit www.sdsu.edu.
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