weekend's worth of personal belongings.
Their goal is to determine whether contaminated groundwater is
contributing to ocean pollution.
Scientists have yet to discover the source of pollution off
Southern California's coast, a problem that has plagued Huntington
Beach for years, closing its beaches for most of the summer in 1999.
Many tests have been conducted and theories tested, but the problem,
and the mystery, remain.
Boehm, a marine chemist, and Paytan, an environmental engineer,
will test their theory by collecting water and sediment samples from
the ocean and testing them for radium, a naturally occurring element
that typically binds to soil in freshwater. Radium levels will serve
as an indicator of the amount of groundwater entering the ocean.
The scientists will look for a correlation between radium and
fecal indicator bacteria, which would suggest a relationship between
bacteria and the presence of groundwater, Paytan said. They will also
look to see if groundwater is being pumped into the ocean during high
Paytan teaches oceanography and chemistry at Stanford, and Boehm
teaches environmental engineering. Boehm used to surf at the river
jetties at the mouth of the Santa Ana River and became familiar with
the city's pollution problems while in graduate school at UC Irvine.
"People have looked at bacteria pollution in many, many places ...
but this is the first time a marine chemist and an environmental
engineer are joining forces to investigate this kind of issue,"
A request for $8,000 to subsidize the study was turned down by the
Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board.
With tight budget constraints in place, funding for this type of
study was not a priority, said Ken Theisen, a senior environmental
scientist with the water quality control board.
Boehm and Paytan are eyeing other sources, and if all else fails,
Boehm jokes, they'll hold a garage sale. Until then, the two will man
the study on a volunteer basis.
Starting Saturday, the professors will be running 25 tests off
Huntington State Beach lifeguard towers nine and 10, at Magnolia