Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Getting Creative in Newport, Oregon

The Youth Volunteers in Newport, Oregon did it again! They've implemented another fantastic project to complement their BWTF water testing and raise awareness in a very creative way of the impacts of stormwater pollution. Another great job! Local newspaper coverage below....

By Cindy Hanson

Newport, OR - Oregon Coast Aquarium youth volunteers partnered with the Surfrider Foundation to create a painting of a whale around a storm drain at the Nye Beach Turnaround. The “Storm Drain Art Project” intends to raise awareness about storm water and runoff pollution. Aquarium artist Michael Cole, known for his magnificent mural work at the Aquarium, painted the whale last Saturday. The youth volunteers have been coordinating the project with Cole and the Surfrider Foundation for the past six months, proposing the project to City Council and gathering materials. The City of Newport approved the first painting, and if the City approves of the next phase of the project, there will be more storm drain paintings in the area, intended to demonstrate that what goes into the storm drain goes into our oceans.

The youth volunteer team was first inspired to complete the art after learning about a similar project done by Surfrider Foundation with the Ocean Resource Team in Port Orford (2009). The youths wanted to educate the high number of visitors that enjoy the Nye Beach area and encourage them to make choices that have a positive impact on the environment. Recognizing that storm water pollution is a problem and everyone can be part of the solution, the youth team’s project aimed to deliver that message in a more meaningful way than a storm drain marker.

“What goes in our yards, streets and around drains ends up in the ocean and eventually negatively impacts us and marine life,” said Mechell Bailey, youth volunteer team member. “We thought this was a pretty cool way of demonstrating that connection.”

Throughout the winter the youth volunteers planned out their project. They researched city codes, regulations, located multiple possible sites around town, worked with local artist Michael Cole, wrote a project proposal and presented their idea to the Newport City Council in February. With a unanimous motion from the Newport City Council, the city staff enthusiastically supported preparing the site for the painting.

This year marks the third year that the youth volunteers and Surfrider Foundation have joined forces on youth volunteer water quality team projects. Working under the guidance of the Aquarium’s Youth Program Coordinator, Tricia Ratliff, and Surfrider’s Oregon Field Manager, Charlie Plybon, the youth volunteers help develop projects to raise awareness of the Blue Water Task Force Program. This citizen-based water quality monitoring program has been a partnership between the two organizations over the past seven years, giving volunteers hands-on experience sampling and testing water quality of local beaches. The past three years, the groups have worked jointly with a youth volunteer water quality team each winter, connecting the water quality program to a youth awareness project within the community.

“The youth volunteer team projects are an opportunity to develop leadership, project development, planning, and communication skills,” said Tricia Ratliff, Aquarium youth program coordinator. “More than anything the youth learn that community projects take careful planning, multiple strategies, and follow through. They start a project from conception and follow it through to completion and later present their projects to the general public.”

“My hope is that this project will help educate and make people aware of their actions, as well as be the start of many storm drain art projects,” Said Olivia Poncé, youth volunteer team member.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational attraction dedicated to the highest quality aquatic and marine science programs for recreation and education so the public better understands, cherishes, and conserves the world’s natural marine and coastal resources. For more information, visit the Aquarium’s Web site at www.aquarium.org or call (541) 867-FISH.

Photo Caption: Olivia Ponce, Charlie Plybon, Mechell Bailey, Tricia Ratliff and Tonie Vinson stand behind a new storm drain painting, intended to raise awareness about storm water and runoff pollution, at the Nye Beach Turnaround in Newport. Courtesy Photo

To view Oregon Coast Aquarium's web page on Zoo and Aquarium Visitor, go to: http://www.zandavisitor.com/forumtopicdetail-9-Oregon_Coast_Aquarium

Monday, March 29, 2010

BWTF in Rhode Island

Rhode Island Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation Springs Forward with Water Testing for 2010
March 17, 4:54 PMProvidence Surfing ExaminerPhilip Chiaradio
Know your water and the state of our seas
Know your water and the state of our seas

The Surfrider Foundation's deep-seated Blue Water Task Force, driven by it's volunteers, has initiated 2010's water quality monitoring program. In conjunction with Surfrider Foundation's global dedication in protecting our world's oceans, beaches and waves, the BWTF provides the crucial data necessary to assess water quality and pollution issues on a local level. Gathering coastal water samples in a near shore environment on a regular basis, not only provides the data history needed to alert surfers, beach goers and officials in local communities of any health threatening hazards, but also gives the Surfrider Foundation the clout in working towards solutions.

This year's research began on the 23rd of January, followed by another testing on March 6th and continuing throughout the year with May 15th being the next scheduled testing. A total of 14 surf zones are tested each time water sampling is conducted. In our Ocean State, two bacteria groups are monitored, fecal coliforms and enterococci. The results from all Surfrider sites, stretching from Middletown's Third Beach, to the Harbor in Watch Hill, are compared to the Rhode Island Dept of Health's state standard for safe recreational contact. Any surf spot with a result that exceeds state standards, is deemed unsafe. Surfers, swimmers and beach goers should refrain from surfing/swimming in these areas until conditions return to acceptable levels. Click Beach Closures and Advisories for recent updates.

Total coliforms are bacteria found throughout nature. They can occur in human feces, but can also be found in animal manure, soil, decaying wood and other areas on the human body.

Fecal coliforms are a subset of total coliforms bacteria that are fecal specific. However, the bacteria can also contain a genus not necessarily fecal in origin. This genus, Klebsiella, is commonly associated in discharge from textile and pulp mills. This is the reason why fecal coliforms is used as an indicator for drinking water standards.

Enterococci are bacteria that are commonly associated with sewage contamination and are more human specific. They indicate the possible presence of pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria and viruses that can cause a wide range of health hazards such as gastroenteritis, dysentery, hepatitis and other ear, nose, throat and respiratory problems. Enterococci also have an ability to survive in salt water, which is why the Environmental Protection Agency has enterococci as the best indicator for beach/ocean recreation.

Since 2004, the RIDOH created enterococci standards for swimming in Rhode Island's beaches. The Rhode Island Dept of Environmental Management continues to monitor fecal coliforms in marine waters as required by the National Shelfish Sanitation Program.

When speaking with Lauren Russo, coordinator of the BWTF, she stated, "The results from both January and March's testing were in compliance with state standards for safe water recreation." However, areas that are prone to contamination, historically, areas close to rain induced stormwater run-off and combined sewer overflows, effluent from wastewater treatment plants, or stormwater pipes (such as Burnside Pipe, Ocean Road Pipe and Black Point Pipe) have exceeded standards and are under the watchful eye of the Blue Water Task Force. These surf zones are area's such as Newport's First beach, Monahan's Dock in Narragansett, Scarborough State Beach and the Watch Hill Harbor.

Unfortunately, many older cities, especially in New England, Providence included, use a single sewer system called a combined sewer system. During dry periods, wastewater is treated and released as clean effluent. During rain events, however, the combined sewer system becomes overloaded and, as a result, untreated combined sewage is discharged, eventually making its way to the Narragansett Bay. This has been happening since the turn of the century.

A similar scenario happened in Fall River, Ma. in February of 2010 when the Central Street pumping station failed to transfer raw sewage to the treatment plant and instead pumped 2.5 million gallons into the Mount Hope Bay within the Battleship Cove area.

To put the accidental spill in perspective, one Olympic size pool is equivalent to 630,000 gallons. Now add three more pools next to it, all four of them full of raw sewage. Over a period of eleven hours, this was how much was released into the Bay.

The EPA estimates that combined sewer systems overflow 43,000 times per year, discharging 850 billion gallons of untreated waste into our waters.

Green infrastructure is the single most important avenue available for support in congress to rectify sewer system problems. Please see article Ocean legislature for 2010 and click here to send a letter to Congress in support of Green Infrastructure.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Celebrate World Water Day

World Water Day 2010

Today is World Water Day and the Surfrider Foundation joins the United Nations to raise awareness about the world's increasing water quality challenges. Water is the foundation for all life on the planet. How we use and manage water directly affects not only our oceans, but our whole world as well.

Today, we are introducing "Know Your H2O", a new program that focuses on the issues behind use and management of our world's water resources. It's our goal is to educate everyone about water quality and most importantly how we all can take steps to improve it.

We are officially launching the program with our new animated film, " The Cycle of Insanity: The Real Story of Water" which was created by Surfrider Foundation volunteer activists and focuses on the various challenges and solutions relating to water management upstream.

Totebag and Nalgene BottleYou and I both know education has a true ripple effect. The real solution to toxic water pollution, trash littering our beach, and plastics choking sea life is empowering people to change their behaviors on land and then share that knowledge with others.

This World Water Day, I'm asking you to be part of this movement to change the way we all think and act when it comes to the oceans we love.

When you give a gift of $20 or more today, we'll thank you with your choice of an organic tote bag or reusable FilterForGood Nalgene bottle. Your membership will make you one more person reducing their plastic footprint and standing up for clean ocean water.

Your donation today supports educational efforts to stop pollution before it even begins. Your donation makes real pollution prevention a reality and will truly improve water quality.

You have the power to stop the insanity! There is no better day than World Water Day to stand up for clean ocean water and support real change for our oceans, waves and beaches. Please make a donation today.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cycle of Insanity: Coming Soon to Theaters Near You?

On World Water Day, Monday March 22, 2010, the Surfrider Foundation will premier The Cycle of Insanity: The Real Story of Water. This new short film, narrated by actress Zuleikha Robinson from the television series Lost, dives into controversial problems and solutions related to water management and serves as a practical outline for citizens curious about water issues. Watch the trailer and other promotional material online.

From beautiful and climate-appropriate ocean friendly gardens, low impact development and safe water re-use, the video highlights comprehensive solutions for economical and environmentally sensitive water management reform. “These approaches to meeting our water demands will simultaneously achieve multiple benefits like pollution prevention, energy conservation, wildlife and habitat restoration, flood mitigation and more. The video, created by Surfrider activists, presents a truly holistic integrated vision of water management meant to provoke debate and reform,” according to Joe Geever, Surfrider Foundation’s California Policy Coordinator.

“With the communities of San Diego County under Stage 2 mandatory water restrictions, this film comes at an important time,” said Belinda Smith, Co-Chair, Know Your h2o. “This film was made by volunteers from the chapters. We really want people to understand that by following the solutions offered, we offer water managers, and communities the unique opportunity to rethink and fix our outdated water management system.”

The basis for the Surfrider Foundation’s Know Your H2O program, the film will be a centerpiece in Surfrider Foundation’s campaign to bring holistic solutions to water management. Learn more about the Know Your H2O program and view the Cycle of Insanity movie online (after March 16th).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

World Water Day, March 22, 2010


Organization Launches New Water Quality Program, Online Contest and Special Membership Offer

San Clemente, CA (March 8, 2010) – March 22nd is World Water Day – a global observance of our planet’s most precious resource. In recognition of World Water Day, the Surfrider Foundation is unveiling a robust offering of events and activities, including the launch of a new water quality and management-related program, a new educational video, an exciting water quality-themed online contest, and a one day-only membership offering.

Founded in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, World Water Day was created to help focus public attention on the critical water issues facing our global community. The theme for this year’s World Water Day is “Clean Water for a Healthy World.”

“Water is the foundational basis for all life on the planet,” says Matt McClain, Surfrider Foundation’s Director of Marketing and Communications. “How we interact and manage water has a direct affect on not only our marine resources, but the whole of our world as well.”

To help illustrate this point, the Surfrider Foundation is launching “Know Your H20” – a new program that focuses on the issues behind use and management of our world’s water resources – on World Water Day.

“Know Your H20 is the next evolutionary step in Surfrider Foundation’s long-running Blue Water Task Force monitoring program,” says McClain. “Our goal is to move beyond telling people there are challenges to marine water quality, and towards educating them on how they can take steps to improve it.”

The Surfrider Foundation officially launches the program with the premiere of their highly anticipated animated movie “The Cycle of Insanity: The Real Story of Water.” The film, which was created by a cadre of Surfrider Foundation volunteer activists, is narrated by LOST star Zuleikha Robinson and focuses on the various challenges and solutions relating to water management. Check out this film's trailer here. The full film will be available for viewing by World Water Day at http://www.knowyourh2o.org.

Surfrider Foundation will also be kicking off an online contest for its Blue Note Karaoke event on World Water Day. Starting March 22nd, people can log onto MySpace and enter for a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to California to participate in Surfrider’s Blue Note Karaoke event on May 6th.

Finally, the Surfrider Foundation will be offering a special one-day only World Water Day membership package on March 22nd. For the discount price of $20 (regularly $25), purchasers will receive a one-year membership to the Surfrider Foundation and their choice of either a reusable FilterForGood Nalgene bottle or organic tote bag.

For additional information on the Surfrider Foundation’s World Water Day activations, visit www.surfrider.org.

About Surfrider Foundation

The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 50,000 members and 90 chapters worldwide. For more information on the Surfrider Foundation, go to www.surfrider.org.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New water quality standards in Europe may close more beaches

A new European Directive will change the water quality standards that are used to close beaches in 2015. If the new standards are applied to the water quality data collected at Basque Coast beaches by Surfrider in 2009, some of the beaches that were acceptable last season will be closed in the future if the source of pollution is not found and addressed before then.

The objectives of Surfrider Europe's Bathing Waters Initiative and their four water testing laboratories are 1) to provide year-round water quality information to recreational users; 2)to collect information to improve the state of knowledge on the quality and health of coastal waters; 3) communicate their data to local communities and stakeholders; and 4) highlight water pollution issues and bring together stakeholders to find solutions.

More information on the new European Directive and Surfrider Europe's water testing program below.

Several beaches could be closed for swimming in 2015

Surfrider Foundation Europe - 03/05/2010 |
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Findings regarding the quality of water in the Basque Country that were obtained by Surfrider volunteers in 2009 show results that are still inconsistent with the new European Directive standards.

surfrider calidad agua - foto: Mare Urdina/SurfriderZoom in

Photo: Mare Urdina / Surfrider Foundation Europe

The water quality results obtained in 2009 bySurfrider Foundation Europe show potentially chronic contamination for certain Basque coast beaches, or results that are in breach of the terms of the new European Directive, despite previous and ongoing efforts regarding pollution sources (drainage works).

Water quality is currently regulated by a European Directive, called ‘the Bathing Water Directive’ of 1976. The directive requires member states to survey the quality of water: in swimming zones, from a bacteriological point of view and during the summer period.

The 'old' Directive is going to be replaced by a new Directive (2006/7/CE) that was adopted in 2006 and will be applicable in 2015, and that will include the following key principles: simplication of surveillance criteria, better public information and a toughening of thresholds for acceptable bacteria levels.

The new Directive lowers the threshold for unacceptable water quality

Under the old Directive of 1976, the group of test sites, on average, saw an excellent quality of water in 2009. However, when we apply the new criteria that is 4 times as severe as the old directive of 2006, certain sites obtain inadequate results and therefore could be closed for swimming in 2015.

To highlight the impact of the new directive regarding 'classing' of beaches and for identifying the origin of pollutions, working discussions are underway involving the relevant institutions and communities.

This dialogue will also hopefully show the importance of following water quality all year long. Indeed, despite the improvements under the new Directive, the surveillance period is still limited to the summer period and won’t take into account zones for nautical activities.

However, we see especially on the Basque coast, that water sports are practised regularly all year long. These sportspeople are therefore as exposed as swimmers, if not more so, to infection or contamination. Equally, in winter as in summer.

A network of complementary water quality testing

Alongside the regulations currently in place, Surfrider Foundation Europe have implemented surveillance networks on coastal water quality all year round for sites of nautical activity, in order to provide the public, water sportspeople, institutions and councils/towns with better information.

This surveillance network addresses 4 main objectives :

- to follow the bacteria levels and water quality of coastal areas all year long, as the regulations require testing only during the summer period.

- to gather as much information/data as possible, including comments and observations with the goal of improving understanding of the sites.

- to inform members, water sportspeople, the public at large and the group of involved local actors regarding water quality of the different zones followed.

- to emphasise contamination problems and encourage discussion between local actors/representatives.

The objective is also to forecast the consequences of the new European norms that will be applicable in 2015.

Water quality in the bay of Biscay

On the Biscay coast, water quality was followed in 10 zones in co-operation with volunteers, surfclubs and the Basque Surf Federation within the framework of Mare Urdina's 'cross border project'.

All of these zones are swimming and nautical activity areas: including diving, surfing, or canoeing that is practiced on a regular basis on the Basque coast all year long. The sites followed are between the beaches of Muskiz and Sukarrieta : The Arena, Ereaga, Arrigunaga, Barinatxe, Arriatera, Atxabiribil, Plentzia, Bakio, Mundaka and Toña.

In 2009, 8 volunteers actively participated in the sampling. These 'Watermen testers' are for the most part surfers of the clubs along the coast (Peña Txuri, Mundaka Surf Taldea, El Pasillo, …) who are concerned about water quality at their spot and their local environment. In total, in the 2009 season, there were 342 samples analysed for the 10 zones followed.

When unfavourable results are obtained, Surfrider communicates this information to the towns concerned as well as to the waste water treatment providers, with the view of initiating a formal enquiry. This work is carried out in collaboration with AZTI, those responsible for the environment in the communities, water agencies in the Basque Country, the Basque government (health department), and the Biscay deputy general. The objective being, to commence a working dialogue for the reduction of contamination problems.

Beyond the Bay of Biscay, Gipúzkoa and Iparralde

The sample points are re-evaluated each year by the Surfrider team (volunteers, 'Watermen testers', employees) in order to better respond to the public’s questions. 2010 should see an extension of the network on the coast of Gipuzkoa and the French Basque coast. As such, 7 testing zones will be added to the existing network, bringing the number of sites to 17. The numerous volunteers will provide their support and bring to life this complementary network of water quality testing.

Within the Framework of Mare Urdina's work on water quality, Surfrider Foundation, in collaboration with the Pyrenees Atlantique General Council, have organised the 'Bathing water quality' cross border conference on the 23 and 24 June 2010 at Hendeye. The conference will be a European meeting that allows specialists (state services, institutions, collectives, private managers/bodies…) to exchange their experiences regarding the management of bathing water quality in the context of the future application of the new Directive (2006/7/CEE).

Read more about Surfrider Europe's Bathing Waters program and water testing laboratories here.