it's about life - not "lifestyle"
As this column is being written it is March 2001. The day is sunny and clear with no wind at all. The surf is up and after days of rain this is an absolutely beautiful California day.

The ocean is for all intents and purposes closed due to contamination as a result of rain runoff.

There is an established 72 hour post-rain contamination period. More rain is forecast, which will restablish the contamination period. The near-shore ocean is quite brown with churned up sediments, which is normal after storms, but the knowledge that there are unseen nasties in the water as well casts the brown water with a psychic connotation which perhaps it has always deserved.

This is the second year of frequent and detailed testing of water quality in Southern California. The first year was shocking enough. Beaches which don't front houses, inland waterways, or major agricultural or industrial fields routinely turn up over the limits of various contaminants after average rainstorms. The obvious thought is that they probably have always been polluted, which still doesn't make going out now safe, but gives those of us who have a few years of experience a cause to pause when thinking about all the previous exposure we may have endured.

If ever there was a situation that cries for artificial waves, it's this one. The time has come to put away any argument about wave pools. There are too many people surfing now, in a somewhat dwindling number of venues. Having any type of storm activity making the actual water we surf in turn toxic really should be the last straw. It may not be "natural" to surf in chlorinated fresh water, but it isn't very organic (in a good way) to be surfing and swallowing water in God knows who's toilet bowl. Bring on the wave pools!

In a happy world there would be both the Flowrider style and a more gentle, old Big Surf type wave, ideally in the same park. At some point in every surfer career, should the surfer last long enough, just enjoying the motion of riding a wave becomes more important than dancing for the crowd (which isn't watching anyway). That point is usually reached not long before or after severe displeasure is reached with crowds on the roads, beaches, parking lots, and waves. At least in here in Southern California, beach living is turning into the classic Yuppie Reward for those who are born in or who can buy in now. It's an overabused resource and won't get better this side of a neutron bomb event.

Which means there will be an increasing number of aging, disgruntled surfers looking for relief.

Why not build that relief all over the country and open it to everybody? It would lighten the load in the ocean, give people a place to surf when the water is festering, give those so inclined a new place to surf on a regular basis, cut down on polluting car trips to distant beaches for inland surfers and spot checking local residents, and allow people to move away from the coast and still surf.

Case closed. Now is the time.

Ventura County
Copyright 2001. All rights reserved.
Read it and weep...
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