Strategy for a Healthy San Diego Bay

San Diego Bay (Bay) is the largest natural enclosed bay in southern California and the most intensively used water body in the San Diego region. The Bay’s water plays a vital role in sustaining the local and regional economy, supporting national security, and providing a multitude of recreational opportunities. The Bay provides critical habitats and ecosystems that support local and migratory wildlife.

For this reason, in June 2015 the San Diego Water Board endorsed a Strategy for a Healthy San Diego Bay (Strategy). The Strategy was developed to guide the Board and its staff in making the most effective and efficient use of their resources when taking actions to protect and restore the health of the Bay.

The Strategy consists of seven steps

Step 1 - Identify key beneficial use categories applicable to San Diego Bay. Then identify key areas associated with those beneficial use categories.

Step 2 - Assess conditions in San Diego Bay with regard to the key uses and associated areas.

Step 3 - Prioritize which issues are most important to address in San Diego Bay.

Step 4 - Set measurable goals for meaningful environmental outcomes.

Step 5 - Realign the Board's work to implement the tasks necessary to achieve the measurable goals.

Step 6 - Track progress of the work identified and the outcomes anticipated.

Step 7 - Periodically reevaluate the work priorities, goals, and milestones and set course corrections as necessary.

The Strategy begins with identifying the Bay’s key beneficial uses by looking at the beneficial uses designated in the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Diego Basin (Basin Plan). The beneficial uses of San Diego Bay were grouped around three key beneficial uses:

In March 2017, the San Diego Water Board endorsed the staff report entitled Key Beneficial Uses and Key Areas – Focusing on What Is Most Important. The report ranks San Diego Bay as a key water body and identifies the areas of special importance in the Bay for Habitats and Ecosystems, Fish and Shellfish Consumption, and Recreation.

Strategic Water Quality Assessment Approach for San Diego Bay

As envisioned in the Monitoring and Assessment Chapter of the Practical Vision, and in accordance with A Framework for Monitoring and Assessment in the San Diego Region, the Board has developed the Strategic Water Quality Assessment for San Diego Bay to aid the implementation of the Strategy, endorsed by the Board in November 2022.

The Strategic Water Quality Assessment Approach for San Diego Bay outlines how the Board will use monitoring and other data to assess the conditions, stressors, sources, and performance of management actions in San Diego Bay with regard to the key beneficial uses (Step 2 of the Strategy) and help focus the Board’s resources on what is most important to protect and restore the key beneficial uses of the Bay (Steps 3 through 7 of the Strategy). Please see this Fact Sheet for more information about why the Strategic Water Quality Assessment Approach for San Diego Bay was developed.

  • San Diego Bay Sediment Pollutants: Evaluation of Contemporary Ambient Concentrations to Inform Water Quality Management (1/2024)
  • 2020-2022 California Integrated Report
  • Regional Harbor Monitoring Program
  • Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (9/2013)
  • Status Sheets
  • Fish Consumption Study (12/2017)
  • Assessment of Bioaccumulation in San Diego Bay (12/2016)
  • Aquatic Food Web Bioaccumulation Study of San Diego Bay (12/2016)
  • San Diego Bay Debris Study (10/2016)
  • Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Data Portal webpage

    *Document provided through link to Port of San Diego website document

  • NPDES / Core Regulatory Programs
  • Stormwater Programs
  • Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certifications Program
  • Military Facilities
  • Enforcement
  • Site Cleanup Program
  • Shipyard Sediment Cleanup Project webpage
  • Persons can sign up for email notifications for "Healthy Waters: San Diego Bay" at