Survey quantifies potential sources of fecal pollution in San Diego River from people experiencing homelessness

Posted August 9, 2022

SCCWRP and its partners have completed a first-of-its-kind survey documenting the sanitary habits of people experiencing homelessness along the lower San Diego River – a key milestone in ongoing efforts to identify all major possible sources of fecal contamination in the highly urbanized watershed.

The survey, completed in May, estimated the size of the population, as well as what portion of this population uses the river as a toilet, defecates on the river bank only to get washed off during the next storm event, and/or uses offsite restrooms. The findings will be published this fall.

Researchers enrolled 63 people in the survey, which was conducted bimonthly from October 2021 to April 2022; researchers also conducted a census to count all of the individuals living in or near the San Diego River corridor and its tributaries.

The study represents one of multiple ongoing, SCCWRP-led investigations probing various potential sources of fecal contamination to the San Diego River watershed; researchers are also investigating potential contributions from sanitary sewers, private sewer lateral lines and septic tanks during both wet and dry weather.

More news related to: Microbial Source Tracking, Microbial Water Quality