On Saturday March 26, 2011 thousands of people are expected to take over beaches and sites in Baja to participate in the annual "Salvemos La Playa" ("Save the Beach") event. Community events are planned at 20 sites in four vibrant northern Baja cities: Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada and Tecate. Led by environmental action group Proyecto Fronterizo Educacion Ambiental (PFEA), the "Salvemos La Playa", clean-up and celebration features educational events, fun, and entertainment for the whole family.
"Salvemos La Playa" is part of the United Nations "World Water Day" which is organized "as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources." The UN helps to coordinate the event on a global scale with the main event in Cape Town, South Africa. UN's World Water Day Website
"Salvemos La Playa" was formally organized in the year 2000, when 20 eager volunteers arrived to help collect debris and restore the beautiful Baja California beaches to their pristine natural condition. It stands as testament to PFEA's wonderful work with community outreach and education that ten years later (in late 2010) over 3,000 volunteers arrived to lend a hand at its semi-annual event!
All told, well over 50 tons of trash, recyclables and debris have been removed from local Baja California beaches in the last decade, with an ever-growing commitment by local residents and community organizations to dedicate themselves to the clean-up effort.
In addition to this year's actual collection work, numerous other World Water Day events will take place in Baja on March 26th including data collection about the types of waste discovered and removed, an environmental exposition for the general public and an ongoing media campaign designed to raise public awareness about keeping the coast clean on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico Border.
PFEA was co-founded by Margarita Díaz, a well-known environmental activist and currently the foundation's director. Growing up on the beaches of Aculpulco, Margarita learned from her father at a young age that the local shores had originally been named for various ways in which wild sea turtles had used them for thousands of years (e.g. "The Nesting Beach") but due to the ill-effects of pollution and urban development, sea turtles no longer came there. The mother of two children, Margarita believes deeply in protecting the ocean and its coastal ecosystems for future generations and warmly welcomes all volunteers to "Salvemos La Playa!
Water is a precious resource to all humans, no matter where they live. As our global population continues to expand the crucial importance of having clean, fresh water for all adults and children becomes more and more apparent. The United Nations recognized this nearly 20 years ago and in 1993 its General Assembly voted to name March 22 a special day dedicated to reflecting upon the role of fresh water in our everyday lives and focusing on how humans can manage its use sustainably.
From this World Water Day have sprung hundreds of mid-March events in cities all across the planet, each focusing on the world's fresh water. Ranging from walks around dams to dance events to fundraising and formal conferences, these events raise public awareness and increase local involvement in projects for clean, fresh, safe drinking water.
If you're looking for an enjoyable and meaningful way to get involved with World Water Week, consider venturing to one of Baja California's beach towns on March 26th to throw on some gloves, collect bottles or plastic debris and make the world a better place. The sea lions, dolphins, marine mammals (and of course, the mermaids) will thank you!
Pick a Baja site by visiting: Google Map
If you can't make it to Baja, search online or at the UN's World Water Day Website for events in your area.