The surprising part of the sixth annual Clean Water Day Paddle isn't just that hundreds of surfers, swimmers, bodyboarders, and kayakers will be plunging into the bay at 8 a.m. on a Saturday; it's that they're getting in the water at all. The Paddle is meant to alert the city to Bay Area water pollution, which is considerable, according to stats compiled by the nonprofit group Bay Keeper and the Surfrider Foundation, which sponsors the event. Besides what they describe as an alarmingly high concentration of heavy metals, pesticides, and other hazardous gunk, our water is also tainted by the untreated sewage of combined sewer overflows, or CSOs, a byproduct of too many people crammed into too small a geographic area.
As Surfrider Chairperson Todd Walsh has pointed out, the problem isn't going to take care of itself, and the Paddle is designed to be educational as well as recreational, so that residents really know what kind of water they're playing in, and what they can do to help keep it clean. The Paddle begins with a ceremonial circle in the water, then a paddle or swim in a loop from Aquatic Park into the bay and back. Once they've regained their land legs, participants will join in a Clean Water Day Celebration Luau, with Hawaiian dancers, surf music, and a free barbecue. It all begins at 8 a.m. Saturday at Aquatic Park Beach, Jefferson & Hyde, S.F. Admission is free; call 665-4155. (