Saturday, June 12, 2010

A new BWTF program begins tackling pollution in Seattle

The Seattle Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation recently relaunched their BWTF program. Dr. J. Scott Meschke, PhD, MS, JD, Assistant Professor in the University of Washington Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences is assisting the chapter with their water testing program. Dr. Meschke has provided the Blue Water Task Force with the use of lab space and training in lab procedures. Chapter volunteers are collecting and running their own water samples, as well as collecting sand samples from the intertidal zone for research on the retention of MRSA and other pathogens in the environment that Dr. Meschke’s and Dr. Marilyn Roberts are undertaking. The Chapter started sampling freshwater sites at the end of 2009 and have added some marine beaches to their sampling program this spring. They are now currently monitoring nine sites, including beaches, streams, and marinas. Their most recent water quality data are posted online.

For the past 3 months, one of their sampling sites, a fresh water stream that runs through Golden Gardens Park, has been testing extremely high for bacteria, well above state standards. This is very concerning as this site is a very popular stream for children to play in. The chapter contacted the King County's Department of Health to alert them to the problem. They sent their results as well as a picture of kids playing in the stream less than 48 hours after the most recent high result. The Department of Health took the Chapter’s concerns seriously and will begin notifying the public of the danger that this polluted water can pose to bathers. The chapter is working with the City to develop streamside signage that will educate the public about the pollution and hopefully deter families from playing in the stream. The Chapter has also received great coverage on this issue by local news reporters. Check out these links.

Ballard News-Tribune

Public notification is just the first step. The chapter is now pursuing funding options to do a source identification study. Possible pollution sources to the Golden Gardens Park include a dog park directly upstream or one of the other streams that feed into this stream from Seattle. Congratulations to the Seattle Chapter for forming good partnerships with both the University of Washington to get their water testing program off the ground and running and with the King County Department of Health to raise public awareness and look for solutions for their local water quality problems. Thanks also goes out to all the volunteers that donate their time and expertise to collect samples and help out in the lab.

Stream at Golden Gardens Park, Washington

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