Campus: San Diego State University -- August 25, 2004
SDSU Breaks Ground on Coastal Waters Laboratory
Researchers Aim for Facility to Become Premier
Water Quality Lab in Southern California
Today San Diego State University, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the
San Diego Metropolitan Wastewater Department (MWWD) celebrated breaking ground on
an $8 million water quality research and analysis facility that SDSU researchers
hope to develop into Southern California's main research hub for studying the
health of the coastal marine ecosystem.
"When people think of San Diego, they picture its beautiful coastline, its great
swimming beaches, and the San Diego Bay. But what they may not realize is that
San Diego's coastal waters are increasingly threatened by pollution from urban
runoff and other developmental pressures which can degrade beach water quality
and diminish marine biodiversity," says Rick Gersberg, director of the SDSU Coastal
and Marine Institute. "With this lab, we'll be much more closely linked to the
coastal problems we're trying to solve and more able to focus on how to preserve
our invaluable coastal zone resources."
The Coastal Waters Laboratory, a 40,000 square foot two-story building located on
a site at the former Naval Training Center with access to San Diego Bay, will
feature a research facilities and offices, an 11,500-square-foot outdoor marine
biology aquarium and seawater system, plus facilities for divers and docks for
SDSU's research boats. The schedule for completion is spring 2005.
Brian Hentschel, SDSU Assistant Professor and Marine Invertebrate Ecologist in the
Biology Department can't wait to have access to the seawater system. "The seawater
and aquarium facilities are a critical component of the new building, complementing
our campus labs and allowing our research programs to grow. We believe the
expansion of our marine facilities will make San Diego State University one of the
premier marine biology programs in California," said Hentschel.
The Coastal Waters Laboratory is a product of many levels of collaboration that
will continue after the complex is built. MWWD worked with the San Diego State
University Foundation to facilitate development on land provided by the City of
San Diego with the closure of the former Naval Training Center. In addition, SDSU
and the USGS's Water Resources Division will share space in the building and work
on joint projects. The Coastal Waters Laboratory also is being built next to
MWWD's Environmental Monitoring and Technical Services Laboratory, which will
enhance information exchange among the different organizations on water-related
"The new Coastal Waters Laboratory is a model for partnership," U.S. Geological
Survey Director Chip Groat said. "It will be a state-of-the-art facility that will
greatly benefit the faculty and students of San Diego State University, the
scientists and partners of USGS and the San Diego Metropolitan Wastewater Department.
I believe that this is the right laboratory in the right place at the right time,
and I commend the SDSU Foundation for the vital role they have played."
Gersberg, a professor of environmental health in SDSU's Graduate School of Public
Health and a member of the San Diego Mayor's Clean Water Task Force, said the
Coastal Waters Laboratory will be one of the first in California to look not only
at water quality issues on the coast, but also explore inland sources of marine
pollution that may originate in these watersheds far from the coast, but still
can degrade coastal recreation and marine diversity. "To have the city, USGS and
the university working together to form a "coastal-zone campus" focused on these
coastal zone issues right here in the region makes eminent sense," he said.
SDSU's Coastal & Marine Institute, established in the early 1990s from its
predecessor, the Center for Marine Studies, has a multifaceted mission: to study
processes that affect the coastal and marine environment; to educate students and
the public; and to provide advice on the wise use and management of natural
resources. It also coordinates the Oceanography and Marine Studies degree
programs at San Diego State University.
The Coastal Waters Laboratory will be the latest off-campus research facility
affiliated with the Institute, joining the Pacific Estuarine Research Laboratory,
which has operations at the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve
near the international border; and the Center for Inland Waters at the Salton
SDSU's researchers will use the facility to help them look at bacteria and viruses
in coastal waters and evaluate their risk to human health during swimming and
surfing; analyze chemical pollution, such as from pesticides and metals, and
their risk to wildlife, as well as monitor the health and function and diversity
of the ecosystem - an effort that will be greatly facilitated by the new seawater
system to be built at the new lab.
The Coastal Waters Laboratory will also serve as a home base for boats used in
SDSU's diving instruction courses and marine biology research, and as a specimen
collection facility to store and examine marine life organisms and specimens.
Pacific Cornerstone Architects designed the Coastal Waters Laboratory; the general
contractor is Ledcor Petty Construction. The project is being financed with
non-state tax exempt bonds.
SDSU is designated a "Doctoral/Research University-Intensive" by the Carnegie
Foundation, placing it among the top 6.7 percent of higher education institutions
in the U.S. SDSU faculty, with support from the SDSU Foundation, have received
a total of more than a half-billion dollars in external funding through research
grants and contracts in the last four years.
Contact: Jennifer Zwiebel, SDSU Marketing & Communications,
(619) 594-4298, firstname.lastname@example.org