Friday, July 31, 2009

Watershed Partners: Sending Volunteers Upstream and Out to Sea

The Rhode Island Chapter and the Chapters in Ventura and San Diego Counties in California are maximizing their BWTF volunteer efforts by partnering with other environmental organizations. While the two California chapters are sending volunteers up into their watersheds to collect water quality information with volunteers from other community groups and environmental organizations, the Rhode Island BWTF volunteers make up the beach component of their state watershed program.  

While the Chapters bring manpower and enthusiasm to these watershed programs, their partners take responsibility for training, data management, and all of the logistics of running water-testing laboratories. These successful partnerships are great models for volunteer water testing programs. Learn more about each program below.

Ventura County, California
Ventura Stream Team began early in 2001 as a partnership program of Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and the Ventura Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Coordinated by the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, Stream Team recruits and trains community members to take part in monthly water quality monitoring sessions. Although the Cities and Counties test ocean and creek water weekly at many spots, there is no regular and comprehensive testing of either the Ventura River watershed or the Goleta Slough watershed. The obvious action is to go up-stream, and test the water at every major reach and junction to locate the 'trouble' spots.

Learn more on the Ventura River Stream Team's website or check out this video

San Diego, California
Volunteers from the San Diego Chapter are heading upstream to perform watershed testing. Coastkeeper engages hundreds of dedicated citizen volunteer water monitors, providing useful water quality information to the general public, and partners with a wide variety of regulatory agencies, academic institutions, businesses and non-profit organizations.

San Diego Coastkeeper’s Watershed Monitoring Program strives to:
• supplement the limited water quality data resources available,
• protect sensitive ecosystems,
• identify and abate pollution sources,
• track the effectiveness of pollution prevention plans and
• prevent further degradation of our precious water resources.

Learn more on the coastkeeper website or watch their training presentation.

Rhode Island
The Rhode Island Surfrider Chapter’s Blue Water Task Force collects water samples for bacterial analysis on a monthly basis. Volunteers collect samples from twelve popular beaches throughout Rhode Island. Once collected, samples are sent to the University of Rhode Island's Watershed Watch laboratory, where they are analyzed for traces of E. Coli, Fecal Coliform and Enterococcus bacteria.

The University of Rhode Island Watershed Watch Program is a statewide volunteer monitoring program. It focuses on providing current information on the water quality of surface water resources throughout Rhode Island, including lakes, ponds, reservoirs, rivers, streams and the marine environment.

The goals of this program are:
• To promote active citizen participation in water quality protection.
• To educate the public about water quality issues.
• To obtain multi-year surface water quality information in order to ascertain current conditions and to detect trends.
• To encourage sound management programs based upon water quality information.

For more information, visit the URI Watershed Watch website.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Two Literature Review Documents Related to Recreational Water Quality Risks Just Released by EPA

For those of you looking to delve a little deeper into the science behind beach water testing and the national water quality standards, the EPA has just released two literature reviews online.

1. Review of Published Studies to Characterize Relative Risks from Different Sources of Fecal Contamionation in Recreational Waters.

2. Review of Zoonotic Pathogens in Ambient Water.

The first report discusses studies on human health illness and risk from exposure to beach water, and the second provides a summary of the many different pathogens in polluted seawater that can make you sick.  Both documents are available on EPA's Web site at:


Friday, July 17, 2009

BEACH Act Action Alert!

For the third year in a row, Congress is considering a bill to reauthorize the BEACH Act. This landmark law was first championed by Surfrider Foundation a decade ago.  The BEACH Act set federal water quality standards and provides federal dollars to states for beach monitoring programs.

The Clean Coastal Environment & Public Health Act of 2009 will increase the amount of federal dollars that can be spent on beach water quality monitoring and will modernize the technology we rely on to protect the health of the beach-going public. It also expands the scope of the BEACH Act to include tracking and cleaning up the sources of beach water pollution. A similar bill passed the House of Representatives last year, but languished in the Senate.

Urge your members of Congress to show their support for healthy beaches and robust coastal economies by cosponsoring the Clean Coastal Environment & Public Health Act of 2009. Don't let them put this off for yet another year!

Just click here to send a letter to your Representatives and Senators via Surfrider's Action Alert system.