Greg Goran grew up surfing the waters off Huntington Beach. Over the past 35 years, he has seen a noticeable change in the water — it’s much dirtier.
“Urban runoff is the No. 1 source of ocean pollution and a primary reason why the water is so much dirtier now,” he said.
Goran decided he wanted to help prevent runoff from ever reaching the ocean. He joined the Huntington Beach Surfrider Foundation and is now chairman of the Ocean Friendly Gardens program, created to encourage the use of conservation and natural environmental features in landscaping.
Goran and Jeff Coffman, a fellow Surfrider colleague, came across a grassy lot surrounding Southern California Edison’s Hamilton substation, located two miles from the beach. It was covered in turf and required extensive watering and fertilizers to keep it green.
So, the duo approached SCE to see if there was interest in partnering to renovate the landscape and make it ocean friendly.
“This was an opportunity to create Surfrider’s largest ocean-friendly garden in the world,” said Coffman.
With the historic California drought in full force, SCE agreed the site was a prime candidate for renovations and jumped on board.
The project turned into a large community partnership. Aside from his role at Surfrider Foundation, Goran teaches a sustainability class at Huntington Beach High School. His students got to work on creating a “worm tea” natural fertilizer to place in the soil. Coffman donated a bioswale system to retain water and reached out to local businesses for plant and landscape donations.
“This was really a community effort,” said Jenelle Bader, SCE Government Affairs representative. “Surfrider, Huntington Beach High School and so many other organizations came together to improve our community and water at the nearby beach.”
Drought-tolerant plants replaced 36,524 square feet of turf. Chemical fertilizers will now be used sparingly. Surfaces are permeable to allow water to sink into the ground and rain is the first source of irrigation, saving about 1.6 million gallons of water annually. When natural rain isn’t enough, a smart irrigation controller uses satellite technology to monitor moisture levels and waters as needed, typically once or twice a month.
Savings from the reduced water use and lower maintenance costs will recoup the renovation investment within a couple of years.
“We give SCE props for doing the right thing,” said Goran. “Every little bit helps to keep our oceans healthy and clean for generations to come.”