Common Ground Project Description


Water quality plays a significant role on public health, quality of life and the local economy in the City of San Diego - a fact that is not lost upon its residents, who, since 1999, have identified protection of recreational water quality as the highest priority for the City*. The importance of regional water quality is heightened by the continued impacts to our local streams, lagoons and Bay. Since 1976, the number of impaired water bodies (not meeting federal standards) in the San Diego region has more than doubled with each subsequent development of the Clean Water Act (CWA) 303(d) list.

Despite the allocation of significant resources to monitoring efforts, there still remains an inadequate understanding of local water quality, which undermines our ability to properly manage these vital resources. A great part of this problem is that while water quality and related monitoring efforts have been undertaken in the region for many years, there is at present no method to effectively manage and utilize data collected by regulatory agencies, academic institutions, businesses and non-profit organizations. Inadequate data management hinders the ability of local and state agencies to arrive at informed management decisions to effectively identify and abate point and non-point source pollution. Water-monitoring data must be obtained and effectively managed in order to protect sensitive ecosystems, identify and abate pollution sources, track the effectiveness of implemented actions, and prevent further degradation of our precious water resources.

With these water quality challenges facing the region, the San Diego Common Ground Project was created to incorporate data from water and sediment quality monitoring programs and to integrate these data on a watershed level using a web-based inter-active application to serve as a broad communication, education and decision making tool; and to further develop the region's capacity to understand and access data about the processes affecting our water resources. The Common Ground Project was initiated in the summer of 2004 through grant funding from the State Water Resources Control Board under Proposition 13 Coastal Non-point Source Pollution Control Grant Program. The City of San Diego is the project lead. The project is currently updating the web-site based on the input from the second public workshop and surveys obtained from other stakeholders. These updates will be completed by the end of March 2006.

The project team includes City of San Diego which is providing the oversight and management of the project; San Diego State University Geography Department which is leading the development of the interactive web-based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping and GIS data query tool, development of the web-site and providing the host server for the site; San Diego Coastkeeper which is leading the development of the web-based educational tools and conducting the volunteer training and sampling program; and, Weston Solutions, Inc which has been contracted by the City of San Diego to conduct water quality sampling, provide project management and develop web content and the data query tool.

The Common Ground project is using innovative web-based GIS mapping and data management tools to achieve these goals. Users are able to obtain water and sediment quality data using GIS mapping and database queries and download this information from the project web-site. Additional data can be added using the standard format that can then build onto the current data base and be accessible through the query and mapping functions. A 3D video has also been developed as an educational tool that follows the journey of water through the watershed and presents pollution prevention in an interesting and innovative way using the latest technology.

The Common Ground project's primary goals are to develop the foundation for a web-based data management, mapping and education tool box for water quality managers to better access the multiple data sets that have been collected in the San Diego Bay watersheds ; and to more effectively develop and assess management actions. In addition, the goals are to provide local educators with the tools to enhance our region's understanding of its water quality issues and allow interested citizens to volunteer and participate in programs to assess and improve the water quality in our watersheds. The long-term goal is to reduce the pollutant loads into our local streams and creeks through pollution prevention and regional actions that include source and load reductions based on comprehensive data and data assessment using the tools included on this web-site. This project provides an important planning tool for the region to access current water quality issues more affectively and develop long-term planning.

* City of San Diego 1999 Citywide service Priority Ranking Survey, 1999.