The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful grassroots network. Clean water is a central initiative for the Surfrider Foundation, who recently celebrated World Water Day with the release of its Annual Clean Water Report tracking the progress of the organization’s clean water programs during 2018.

The Blue Water Task Force is the Surfrider Foundation’s citizen science water quality monitoring program that operates through a national network of nearly 50 labs. Through the Blue Water Task Force program, citizen scientists provide critical water quality information to protect public health and clean water.

Surfrider Foundation is proud to have six affiliate Blue Water Task Force programs hosted on the Swim Guide:

  • Eastern Long Island, New York
  • Miami, Florida
  • Rincon, Puerto Rico
  • Vancouver Island, British Columbia
  • Europe
  • One of the Surfrider Foundation’s core beliefs is that everyone deserves access to clean water to surf, swim and play in. Through its Clean Water Initiative, Surfrider takes a multi-tiered approach to protect water quality in local waterways and reduce ocean pollution. In a time when it is difficult to depend on federal agencies tasked with protecting clean water and healthy beaches, it is so encouraging to see how much a network of volunteers can accomplish in just one year!

    During 2018, the Blue Water Task Force water testing program continued to grow with overall testing up 12% from the previous year. There were 48 BWTF labs that processed 6,826 water samples collected from 474 distinct sampling sites. The collective results from all the participating BWTF labs have remained relatively constant since we began compiling an annual report in 2011. In 2018, 67% of our test results indicated low bacteria levels, 11% indicated medium bacteria levels, and 22% measured high bacteria levels that exceed the national water quality standard set by the EPA to protect public health in recreational waters.

    The majority of the water samples that failed to meet health standards were collected from freshwater sources such as rivers, creeks and marshes that are influenced by stormwater runoff or at beaches near these outlets. This is consistent with national trends, which show that stormwater runoff is the number one cause of beach closures and swimming advisories in the United States.

    In response to the problem of stormwater runoff, Surfrider Chapters are digging in to the Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) Program which provides an upstream, inexpensive and beautiful approach to help solve the water quality problems in their local communities. By using native plants, building healthy soils naturally, and carefully shaping landscapes to slow down and retain rainwater, OFGs transform landscapes and hardscapes to reduce urban runoff and filter out pollutants. Ocean Friendly Gardens also help conserve water, create wildlife habitat and can even reduce the impacts of climate change by absorbing carbon from the air and storing it in the soil. During 2018, 23 Surfrider chapters ran OFG programs and helped transform 65 residential and public spaces into Ocean Friendly Gardens. Watch this video to learn how the Ventura Chapter is building community awareness with their OFG program.

    In 2018, Surfrider chapters tackled regional water quality issues by using their clean water programs to build community awareness of pollution problems and the solutions needed to improve conditions. The Clean Water Report features four case studies highlighting the efforts of the following chapters as they empower their local communities to address challenging pollution problems such as toxic algae blooms, border sewage spills, cess pools and stormwater runoff.

  • Depoe Bay, Oregon
  • Palm Beach County, Florida
  • San Diego, California
  • Oahu, Hawaii
  • Read the full 2018 Clean Water Report to learn what Surfrider Foundation volunteers and activists are doing in coastal communities around the country to protect public health and clean water at the beach. Anyone can join the effort to fight for clean water by asking Congress to support continued funding for beach water testing programs.

    A day at the beach should never cause you or your family to get sick at the beach. So please, view the Swim Guide Map and find your local beaches so you know before you go whether or not it’s safe to swim. Surfrider Foundation looks forward to adding additional Blue Water Task Force Programs as affiliates to the Swim Guide to get more water quality information of beaches, ponds, streams, and waterbodies into the hands of recreational users.

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