Courtesy of Layna Lapikas_The Highlander

Research has uncovered that the ocean has become more acidic due to absorbing an excess amount of carbon dioxide. This trend is especially concerning since the ocean’s acidification is dangerous to marine life, such as plankton, shellfish and essentially the entire ocean food web, while also playing a role in rising sea levels. This phenomenon is more prevalent in California as opposed to other coastal areas due to the operation of waste and water facilities. California should prioritize protecting the ocean by increasing funding for improving wastewater plant operations. 

Improving ocean water acidification is not a simple task. California’s water waste plants are the first place to turn to when looking at what variables can be changed to improve the condition of the ocean. There are many environmental advocates, specifically the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which has put out information stating, “Such changes can affect seafood supplies and the ocean’s ability to store pollutants, including future carbon emissions.” Their expertise and commentary should be urgently considered for the good of the ocean and coastal states. 

Jenn Eckerle, executive director of the Ocean Protection Council, said the council is “supporting the development of policies through investments in modeling and monitoring to better understand the effects and potential responses.” The desired policies are targeted around setting a water quality standard for wastewater facilities in an effort to prevent ocean acidification hotspots. The Council is hoping that new policies and decisive political action will improve the situation at hand. Through model-based research studying nitrogen and wastewater recycling found that wastewater plants are a significant part of the problem. The process through which the wastewater plants are discarding the waste is too harsh for the environment. 

Setting a standard that can be applied to all wastewater institutions can decrease the amount of harmful waste being discharged into the ocean. Water waste plants will likely continue to operate regardless of the ocean’s condition. Therefore, solutions should be implemented to counteract their effects on the marine environment. Without policies creating a standard for wastewater plants, the ocean will continue to become more acidic, endangering shellfish, other animals and humans. 

Without proper attention and care to this issue, the quality of shellfish and seafood will diminish, affecting the market for seafood in Southern California. The people consuming these foods will put themselves at risk. Holding California officials accountable for these changes and policies is important to setting a standard for wastewater facilities. They have the most power to impact the ocean in a positive way and save the ocean from further degradation. Although there are many difficulties that require the government’s attention, this should be high on the list.

The quality of seafood, the habitats of marine life, and the delicate balance of the ocean are all at stake with the continuation of ocean acidification. Major contributors such as wastewater plant processes can be altered to reduce the acidity of large portions of wastewater released into the ocean. This would reflect a more conscientious effort to reduce pollution. In Southern California, there should be a standard implemented, and this starts with the government battling ocean acidification as a priority.