Aloha to a Coastal Champion

April 24, 2012

Today’s blogger is Sarah Sikich, Heal the Bay’s coastal resources director

Last week we lost a local coastal champion, Joe Melchione, to his fight with lung cancer. Joe was a dedicated environmental activist, friend, and talented surfer. He will be deeply missed.

I first met Joe at a Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board hearing, where the permit for Tapia wastewater treatment plant in the Malibu area was up for renewal. He spoke with fervor before the Water Board regarding his concerns about the threat bacterial pollution at Surfrider Beach poses to surfers and beachgoers. His engagement on water quality issues in the Malibu Creek Watershed over the years helped influence Tapia’s dry weather discharge permit; the development of pollution limits for bacteria, nutrients, trash in the watershed; and other coastal issues in the area.

A member of the Malibu Surfing Association, Joe had a fiery passion for the environment and was a joy to work with. He could always find the humorous side of a frustrating situation.

Joe’s passion was well-recognized and a great influence within the Heal the Bay community. A few years ago, he purchased a table at Heal the Bay’s Bring Back the Beach, but instead of filling it with personal friends, he generously invited fellow volunteers (many of whom could not afford to purchase a ticket) to join him as guests at the event. In hearing of his passing, many of these volunteers and several people I’ve talked with have reflected on how much they enjoyed working alongside Joe to improve our local environment. He was fun to surf with, too. I hope his spirit lives on in all the people and places he affected.

The MSA has established a memorial fund to honor Joe. 100% of contributions will be donated in accordance with his family’s wishes. Your contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law (#95-4459007).

Please make checks payable to MSA and mail to:

Malibu Surfing Association
P.O. Box 2683
Malibu, CA 90265