This is the first of a series of posts highlighting instances in which SeaWorld has went against conservation efforts.
On the SeaWorld and Busch Garden’s conservation website their mission clearly states the following, “Our mission is to work with purpose and passion on behalf of wildlife and habitats worldwide.” Apparently Mission Bay is an exception.
SeaWorld is a known polluter of Mission Bay in San Diego, California. The bay has been on California’s list of impaired water bodies for several years because it does not meet the Clean Water Act standards.
Clean Water Act violations against SeaWorld began surfacing in the year 2004 when several shocking complaints had been made public. In the year 2000 SeaWorld’s water quality permit was violated eight consecutive times within a six month period. It was violated again in the year 2002.
Very little was reported after the initial publication of this information in 2004 until an interesting, but not surprising, story emerged. Earlier this year (2012) SeaWorld was cited again for exceeding Mission Bay effluent limits. The California Regional Water Control Board cited SeaWorld for two violations, one that had occurred in the year 2011 and one that had occurred this year (2012). As if that wasn’t enough, the California Regional Water Control Board also brought forth more shocking information. The agency states the following, “Since April 13, 2005, there have been numerous violations of effluent limitations at the facility, including three exceedances of Ammonia, six exceedances of Enterococcus, and one exceedance of Total coliform. Furthermore, there have been multiple months in which required sampling was not reported. The constituents not sampled have included pH, Total coliform, Fecal Coliform, Enterococcus, and Total Residual Chlorine.” San Diego Park’s communications director David Koontz commented, “Exceedences in conjunction with our water discharge permit are very infrequent and have never had a detrimental impact to the overall health of Mission Bay. We take our environmental responsibility very seriously and are proud to be excellent stewards of Mission Bay.”
Mr. Koontz is either not aware of the level in which SeaWorld pollutes Mission Bay, or he is deliberately misinforming the public. He claims that SeaWorld’s violations have been “infrequent,” even though the corporation has been cited for pollution dozens of times within the past 12 years. Mr. Koontz’s comment directly contradicts the records in possession of the California Regional Water Control Board.
He also claims that SeaWorld does not impact the health of Mission Bay. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. The San Diego Pollution Program Manager, Donna Frye, says this about the health of the bay, “For too long, the city has failed to protect the natural resources of Mission Bay. Almost every day, one or more areas of Mission Bay is posted with signs warning of unsafe levels of bacteria. Mission Bay does not support its beneficial uses and is listed as an impaired water body due to coliform bacteria. This problem can no longer be ignored.” The bay is also on the top ten list of California’s most polluted beaches. To say that SeaWorld has no responsibility for the pollution of Mission Bay is entirely false since SeaWorld is the largest discharger of water into the bay.
Environmentalists are also on high alert because of SeaWorld’s nightly fireworks over Mission Bay. Some are concerned that the debris falling into the bay and surrounding waterways could be harming wildlife. Forced into compliance, SeaWorld had to file for a permit in order to keep the firework show running. Thank goodness the San Diego Coastkeeper and environmentalists work to clean up SeaWorld’s pollution.
For a corporation that carries a “conservation” image I find it difficult to accept that SeaWorld directly pollutes Mission Bay. This is the very opposite of conservation and I urge everyone who supports SeaWorld to consider this.