Don't Go Near the Foam

— With all that publicity about bad water at Mission Bay this summer, it's no wonder that some people have gotten the heebie-jeebies about the place. Even Cindy Hedgecock, wife of fallen San Diego mayor and right-of-center radio-talk-show host Roger Hedgecock, has gotten the bug. After days of media reports of high bacteria counts near popular bay-front swimming beaches, Cindy, who lives on the bay, fired off an e-mail to her city councilman, Kevin Faulconer, to which she attached a series of photos showing a mysterious, ugly white foam she said had suddenly begun washing up on the shore at Sail Bay. "These were taken at 7:30 this morning, August 1," she wrote. "Are these going to be on the next tourist brochure? What is going on? What can I do to help?" Under a photo of a bird standing forlornly next to a line of foam, Hedgecock added, "How sad is this????" Faulconer forwarded her complaint to the city's Metropolitan Wastewater Department, which whipped up a response to the foamy question three days later. "Storm Water staff noticed similar whitish foam on the Visitors' Center southerly shoreline during recent visits to Mission Bay," wrote deputy director Chris Zirkle and storm water specialist Ruth Kolb. "Foam at the Visitors' Center is similar to that documented by Ms. Hedgecock." But not to worry: "According to County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health staff, the presence of whitish to brownish foam on the shorelines is an annual occurrence during the spring and summer in the region. When kelp, eelgrass, plankton and other organic plant material die, they release proteins which are emulsified into foam by wind and wave action."

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