May 20 2013 | Blue Water Task Force,
by Mara Dias
The Surfrider chapters, volunteers, teachers & students that make up the Blue Water Task Force supported by Emergen-C Blue®, undertook a massive water monitoring effort at their local beaches during 2012. Twenty-three labs recorded data for 2,740 total tests on the BWTF website, up 42% from the 1,924 results reported in 2011. This apparent program growth is a result of both increased testing as well as better reporting and use of the BWTF website.
Most Surfrider labs are concentrated along the west coast, with a few outliers in Rhode Island, Puerto Rico and Hawaii.
Bacteria levels in 2012 were similar to the previous year. 70% of the beach water samples tested did meet national water quality standards. The majority of the water samples that did not were taken from freshwater sources that drain the landscape or at beaches near these freshwater outlets.
Even more interesting than the results themselves is what chapters are doing with their data to increase community awareness of beach pollution issues and establish successful partnerships with local governments and stakeholders to identify sources and fix pollution problems. The Northwest Straits Chapter has been working on a chronic pollution problem at a very popular beach and campground in Washington State for nearly a decade now. What began as a small data collecting effort, has grown into a working partnership with multiple government agencies and academia to investigate the many sources of pollution at Larrabee State Park. The chapter is also running a very successful education and outreach program at the park to teach visitors about the natural environment and water pollution issues and how their behavior can affect both.