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Jul. 31, 2012
Criscuolo and Gustavson:  Working Hard to Fight Water Pollution
Jared Criscuolo and Kristian Gustavson like water. I mean, they REALLY like water. They’ve both spent their lives paddling rivers and streams, surfing famous ocean breaks, and educating themselves, both formally and informally, about the earth’s most valuable resource.

Trestles to TJ

The two met while working for the Surfrider foundation in San Diego, and soon found they had lots in common: Both were tired of getting sick from ingesting ocean water after rainstorms purged local rivers of pollution; both were horrified by the general condition of the nation’s waterways. And they both wanted to do something about it.

In the summer of 2008, Criscuolo and Gustavson formed Below the Surface, a non-profit with a goal of reducing water pollution and the health, economic and environmental hazards posed by it, by working to elevate and sustain those topics in the national dialogue. Since forming BtS, the two friends have worked tirelessly, leading paddling expeditions on our most endangered waterways and mobilizing local groups at both civic and grassroots levels to ensure that our rivers and streams have a voice.

Among the many campaigns and programs that have been initiated by Below the Surface, the most ambitious, by far, is the Riverview Project. Using Google Streetview technology, and with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several sustainably-oriented partner companies, the group’s aim is to build an extensive online photo database of each major river and tributary in the United States. Once the database is complete, BtS hopes it will serve as an easily-accessible resource for anglers, paddlers and other recreational river users. Most importantly, though, the Riverview Project will provide an invaluable visual tool for environmental groups hoping to inspire action and initiate legislation toward protecting the nation’s waterways.

This past week, in an effort to draw attention to the impact of riverine water pollution on the coastline, Jared, Kristian, and several other SUP enthusiasts representing a multitude of environmental groups, spent seven days paddling the San Diego County coast from the mouth of pristine San Mateo Creek at Trestles surf break, to the infamously-polluted Tijuana River at the U.S./Mexican border. To further draw attention to water pollution issues, each day’s journey began and ended at the mouth of an endangered tributary.

The paddle also served as an official launch point for the BtS Streamview Mobile App - a new app that will empower citizens to join in on the organization’s efforts to build their Riverview Project database and help fight water pollution – a fantastic tool for spurring grassroots stewardship of our rivers, lakes and coastal waters. The Streamview app is set to go live in a few weeks.

We’re proud to support the efforts of Jared and Kristian, and we are constantly impressed by their creativity when it comes to bringing attention to the issues of water pollution and waterway health. If you’re planning on exploring your own local waterways in the near future, download the app, snap some pictures, and help to build the database!
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We like getting our heart rates up, taking a big breath of fresh air, savoring delicious food. But we also love telling stories and here's where we type 'em up. (BTW, it works both ways; leave a comment—please and thank you.)

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