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Student initiative leads Solana Beach council to stop using polluting material

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Earl Warren Middle School
(Karen Billing)

Thanks to some observant middle-school students, Solana Beach officials are halting the city’s practice of using fiber rolls wrapped in plastic to control erosion.

About a dozen students from Earl Warren Middle School delivered a presentation to the Solana Beach City Council on Wednesday, June 12, asking the panel to halt the practice of using the plastic-wrapped materials and start using those that aren’t swathed in plastic.

Council members voted 5-0 to approve the request and to begin purchasing only non-plastic, biodegradable fiber rolls. City officials determined the policy change may cost only about $200 more per year.

The students, who are members of the school’s Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program, observed that the fiber rolls placed on their campus to control storm runoff were actually contributing to pollution and also harming wildlife.

That’s because the plastic wrappers, also known as “straw wattles,” deteriorated and were washed into storm drains.

Councilwoman Kristi Becker praised the efforts of the students, most of whom were not identified by name in their presentation.

“I wanted to thank you guys and tell you are amazing,” Becker said. “You’re powerful.”

Mayor David Zito urged the students to continue their activism.

“You’re showing great promise,” he said. “The country needs great leaders. You’re doing a great job so far.”