About CERF


Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation (CERF) is a nonprofit environmental organization founded by surfers in North San Diego County and active throughout California’s coastal communities. CERF was established to aggressively advocate, including through litigation, for the protection and enhancement of coastal natural resources and the quality of life for coastal residents.

CERF’s primary areas of advocacy include:

  • Water quality protection and enhancement (stormwater management and – sewage conveyance/treatment)
  • Wastewater Recycling (Indirect Potable Reuse)
  • Public Transportation and Bicycle Infrastructure
  • Waste to Energy
  • Coastal Development
  • Beach Nourishment
  • Marine Debris
  • Marine Reserves

Indirect Potable Reuse News Conference

Prior to receiving a landmark report on San Diego’s Water Purification Demonstration Project at the San Diego Natural Resources and Culture Committee meeting, Mayor Bob Filner, Councilmember David Alvarez, Council President Todd Gloria, Councilmember Lorie Zapf, and the diverse-membership Water Reliability Coalition held a press conference praising the Project.



The report (pdf) can be viewed here: http://docs.sandiego.gov/councilcomm_agendas_attach/2013/NRC_130320_7.pdf


And the Public Utilities Department staff presentation (pdf) given by Marsi Steirer can be viewed here: http://docs.sandiego.gov/councilcomm_agendas_attach/2013/NRC_130320_7ppt.pdf


East County Magazine

Broad coalition urging city leaders to move forward with safe, reliable options for drinking water in San Diego

March 20, 2013 (San Diego) The Water Reliability Coalition (WRC), a broad-based affiliation of environmental, business, consumer, labor, development, taxpayer and technical organizations, has come out in support of the City of San Diego’s Natural Resources & Culture committee’s decision to move forward in implementing water purification in the City of San Diego.

Earlier today, before the council committee voted unanimously to support water purification, WRC members stood beside Mayor Bob Filner, Council President Todd Gloria, and Councilmembers David Alvarez and Lorie Zapf to encourage city leaders to take the steps needed to implement water purification.

Four years ago, the City of San Diego began a “demonstration project” to show that advanced water treatment technologies can make water safe enough to augment our water supply. Today, the committee voted to direct City staff to develop a plan and timeline for next steps to implement water purification in San Diego. The plan is due in 90 days. The committee also wanted to ensure the plan maximizes our water supply and reduces the need for upgrades at the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant. Doing so has the potential to save ratepayers nearly $1 billion in upgrades at the plant.

“We’re thankful to see positive results and continuing momentum with water purification in San Diego,” said Jill Witkowski, San Diego Coastkeeper’s Waterkeeper and WRC Co-Chair. “However, time is of the essence — taxpayer dollars, the environment and our water supply all are at stake. We hope to see the City move expeditiously with its next steps.”

“City ratepayers simply cannot continue to sustain rate increases with no end in sight,” said WRC Co-Chair and San Diego County Taxpayers Association Interim President & CEO Chris Cate. “Taking advantage of reliable, safe water supply opportunities like water purification can help alleviate increases while providing a local source of drinking water.”

Water Reliability Coalition Co-founder and Equinox Center Executive Director Lani Lutar said: “Taking the water purification project to the next stage is the environmentally responsible approach to enhancing the region’s water reliability. While we must continue to embrace conservation opportunities, this new source of water is critical to the region’s economic prosperity and our quality of life.”

The Coalition believes recycling water for potable use can be an important part of San Diego’s water supply portfolio diversification and could provide one of the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly options to enhance local water supplies.


The Water Reliability Coalition is a broad-based affiliation of environmental, consumer, business, labor, development, taxpayer and technical organizations that have come together to support exploration of Indirect Potable Reuse as a potential strategy to develop a safe, reliable, sustainable & cost-effective local water supply. Coalition members include: BIOCOM; Building Industry Association; Building Owners and Managers Association, San Diego Chapter; Business Leadership Alliance; Citizens Coordinate for Century 3; Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation; Empower San Diego; Endangered Habitats League; Environmental Health Coalition; Equinox Center; Friends of Infrastructure; Industrial Environmental Association; National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, San Diego Chapter;  San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council; San Diego Audubon Society; San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation; San Diego Coastkeeper; San Diego County Taxpayers Association; San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce; San Diego River Park Foundation; Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Chapter; Sustainability Alliance of Southern California; Utility Consumers’ Action Network

Dredging in Tijuana River Valley Is Halted by Environmental Appeal



February 22, 2013

by Ken Stone

Marco Gonzalez of Encinitas says San Diego city work is effectively ended until the fall of 2013

Dredging in the Tijuana River Valley has effectively been halted until this fall after an environmental group’s appeal kept storm-channel work from starting Friday. Read more

The Benefits of Water Purification [VIDEO]

CERF’s Executive Director Marco Gonzalez discusses how water purification technology is the most environmentally and economically responsible local water supply option for San Diego:

Video also features:

Angelika Villagrana
Former Director at San Diego Chamber of Commerce

Lois Fong-Sakai
Civil & Environmental Engineering Expert

Amy Harris
Former Development Director, San Diego County Taxpayers Association

Release: Independent Review of SDCWA/Poseidon Water Purchase Agreement Shows High Risks to Ratepayers

San Diego, Calif.
Nov. 26, 2012

An independent report, by AC Consulting, analyzing the financial implications of the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) and Poseidon Resources Water Purchase Agreement (WPA) shows there are significant risks that could raise the cost of desalinated water well above the baseline price predicted by SDCWA. The report highlights three factors that can result in significant cost increases.

Read the Press Release by California Coastal Protection Network, Surfrider Foundation, and Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, or the financial analysis by AC Consulting.

The San Diego County Water Authority will consider binding San Diego ratepayers to this thirty year contract on Thursday, November 29.

CERF Comments to City of San Diego Regarding IROC Concerns

The San Diego Independent Rates Oversight Committee (IROC) was given a presentation by a County Water Authority (CWA) staff member on October 15.

CERF members were present for the meeting, at which IROC members voted unanimously to express their concerns to Mayor Sanders and the City Council. Read more

Letter to Ramona Municipal Water District

Dear Mr. Barnum,

Please accept this correspondence on behalf of Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation (CERF). CERF has been actively participating in the County Water Authority’s consideration of the Water Purchase Agreement (WPA) for the Carlsbad Desalination Plant since the project was no longer viable between the nine individual “desal partners” and Poseidon because Poseidon could no longer provide water at a rate equal to MWD imported water. As one board member appropriately stated, this promise was probably just advertising.  Read more

Poseidon Water Purchase Agreement: Private Profit, Public Risk

Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, California Coastal Protection Network, Surfrider Foundation – San Diego Chapter and Orange County Coastkeeper, ocean conservation organizations active in Southern California and focused on sustainable, responsible local water supply, have released an in-depth briefer on the local history and current status of the Carlsbad desalination project.

The San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) is signing a 30-year “take or pay” contract with Poseidon for at least 48,000 (and up to 56,000) acre-feet of water per year. This amounts to $115 million per year, or $3.5 billion for the initial 30-year term of the contract. Though this $3.5 billion has yet to be accurately translated as a rate increase to end users, ratepayers can expect their water bills to increase by a minimum of 8-11 percent. With no firm cap either in the cost to purchase the water or the price the consumer is required to pay, water bills will likely go up well beyond this estimate.

The briefer is available here:Joint SDCWA Briefer (pdf)

Chula Vista Waterfront Development Approved By Coastal Commission

Credit: Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan

Thursday, August 9, 2012
By Tom Fudge

The California Coastal Commission approved a plan to develop the Chula Vista waterfront, which means construction can soon begin.

Read more




August 2, 2012
By Laura Hunter & Marco Gonzalez

When our organizations joined together in 2000 to form a coalition to oppose a development plan for the Chula Vista Bayfront, it would have been hard to imagine then that we’d be where we are today – poised to support the largest new land-use plan in the California Coastal Zone. Read more