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Jessica Winkler

Owner, Kite Beach Yucatan

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Water pollution. How big a problem is it?

Over the past 5 years i've had to close down two of my kiteboarding schools due to water pollution. I would like to open up a discussion on how water pollution has effected people and if you feel it is a serious problem or not. In my experience spending over 3 hours a day in the ocean, water pollution is a major issue that so few people in the sports industry are addressing. That being said surfers against pollution is a wonderful organisation and they are doing a great job but its a small percentage of people. I wrote this article below and after publishing it got a fair amount of grief from people living in the affected areas saying I was being unfair and harsh. What do you think?


Topics: Clean water

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    Feb 22 2014: oh, sorry, jessica, I should have clarified that i live inland from the ocean and never visit it, either. In other words, I don't get any direct impression on whether water pollution exists, so can I contribute to your conversation?

    How are the fish coping, there are still millions and billions of fish surviving in the world's waters, aren't there?

    I wonder why some people are drawn to the water and others aren't. You obviously are drawn to it, do you know why?
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      Feb 27 2014: Hello Greg,

      Yes of course you can contribute as the pollution problem is caused by everyone from how many products we purchase with plastic wrappers to supporting companies that dump into the lakes and ocean. If people such as yourself who do not visit the ocean were aware of what they are doing to contribute to the pollution of water then maybe we could make a bigger difference.

      The world is actually running out of fish. Between over fishing and pollution we will have a massive hunger shortage. I'm not an expert on the subject and I only know what i've watched or read. I'm sure there are many people who would be able to comment on this topic.

      I'm not sure what draws me to the water but I do know that the people in my inner social circle could not live with out going in the water everyday! I think we are a small group of people who need to let people such as yourself know what is going on in the world of water..

      My hope is that telling my personal story it will make people stop and think about what is happening and how they contribute no matter where they are.
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        Feb 27 2014: well, are you American, Jessica? Aren't the waters in America pretty good and getting better? Aren't our controls good and getting better on sewage and trash, like I think we've banned those plastic six-pack yokes that used to get around seals' necks and choke them? Why don't you move to the States and enjoy the oceans and lakes here?

        I have not heard that the world is running out of fish, what is your source on that?

        Well, I'm glad you found something you like. I think I would enjoy living near the ocean and playing there, but my family has always been inland and I value more living near my family rather than moving closer to the ocean. Swimming in the ocean seems like it would be both good exercise and actually pleasant, which you can't say of all exercise. In my opinion dancing is another thing that is both good exercise and actually pleasant?

        It's not entirely relevant, but my second cousin is really good in the water. Her name is Amy Van Dyken, she went to two Olympics and won six golds in women's swimming.
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          Feb 28 2014: I'm actually Canadian but have been living in Central and South America for the past 7 years. I can't comment on the status of the waters in America but hopefully someone on here can. I can only explain the experiences i've had in Mexico and Nicaragua. The only real experience I had in America was in Texas and the water there made me really sick as well.

          Wow your cousin sounds awesome.
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        Mar 1 2014: well, since I don't go to the water very much, Jessica, it's hard for me to say. But when you went to Texas, or Mexico, or Nicaragua, were other people swimming? Are they getting sick? Maybe it's something unique to you? Here my closest ocean site is Santa Monica Beach. As far as I know, people swim in the Pacific there and don't get sick. I tend to think that if people were regularly getting sick at Santa Monica I would hear about it on the news or read about it in the newspaper? I'm not saying you are, but is it possible you're obsessing somehow?

        With these places you got sick, did you do any research as to whether any scientist has measured the water pollution there, and what they have found? But you're finding in your current locale you can swim and you don't get sick at all?

        Yeah, unfortunately I don't know Amy too well, since she grew up in Colorado, and I have always lived in Southern California. One thing I want to ask her the next time I see her is whether swimming continued to be fun for her, earlier I was saying to you that swimming is one kind of exercise that is fun, but I don't know if it's fun when you do it in a super-competitive way. I also want to ask her what is more meaningful, to have a world record, or to do super-well at the Olympics. A world record is awesome because you're the best on the planet, but the Olympics are cool because they're the most visible, high-profile.
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          Mar 3 2014: I actually never got sick very often when in the water. Texas was really the only time. The biggest problem was all of my clients where getting sick with similar symptoms. We researched what was going on with the water in each of the locations and found our suspicions were correct. If you look at google earth there is a check box on the right hand side which will show you all the polluted areas in the ocean and gives a full analysis on what is in the water.
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        Mar 1 2014: just to be clear, jessica, when I said I would ask Amy which is better, to set a world record or succeed at the Olympics but not set a record, what I meant is which is better: is it better to set a world record at a swim meet that's not super-high-profile like the Olympics, since there are meets going on all the time that aren't as prominent as the Olympics; or is it better to win a bunch of medals at the Olympics and become kind of famous but not set a world record?
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        Mar 9 2014: well, I started taking tutorials on how to use google earth, since I don't know how. I still haven't gotten to the page you're talking about, Jessica, if you're willing, provide me a link.

        Does it seem like anyone concerned about water pollution where they live would have to get involved with the government where they live? First I would think they would have to learn what the standards are that the government has for water cleanliness for the ocean around the country. Then they would have to learn how close they are coming to fulfilling the goals, and, if they are failing, why. Then they would have to start pushing the government to do a better job of meeting their cleanliness goals.

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