Monday, February 7, 2011

Santa Monica High School Press Release & Data Displays

The December 2010 rains in California brought the expected stormwater runoff and pollution to area beaches. The students of Santa Monica High School’s Teach and Test Ocean Water Quality Monitoring Program recorded high bacteria levels in their beach water samples and did their best to get the word out. They put together the below press release as well as continued to post their results using the "Safe to Surf" water quality boards they have posted at nearly a dozen local surf shops and other businesses. These students are doing a great job at keeping people talking about beach water pollution issues and raising the visibility of their water testing program in the local community.


December 23, 2010L

Swim at Your Own Risk!

By Zack Gold

Co-president, Heal the Bay Surfrider Club

Santa Monica High School 601 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90405

Student Contact: Zachary Gold

Teacher Contact: Benjamin Kay

Three hours ago, student members of Santa Monica High School’s Teach and Test Ocean Water Quality Monitoring Program, sponsored by Surfrider Foundation, removed ocean samples from their classroom incubator to discover super high fecal bacteria levels at all three of their Santa Monica sites: Pico-Kenter and Santa Monica Pier storm drains as well as Lifeguard Station 26. Students collected the samples 24 hours earlier on Wednesday to determine the level of Enterococcus bacteria, a bacteria found in human and mammal feces, and one used as an indicator of ocean health and human risk by Los Angeles County.

The mean values of Enterococcus bacteria for Lifeguard Station 26, Pico-Kenter, and Santa Monica Pier ocean sites were 1193, 1414, and 2240 colony forming units per 100 mL, respectively. The state’s acceptable levels for Enterococcus colony forming units is 104. Thus, student data show the water quality is over 10 times worse than the state’s acceptable level, indicating very polluted water quality and an increased risk to beachgoers.

Zack Gold, co-president of the Heal the Bay Surfrider Club and student leader of the Teach and Test program explained, “The water quality results for bacteria from this week’s sampling were absolutely appalling. We should never have fecal indicator bacteria levels 10 times higher than the state's acceptable level. We know for sure that the chances of getting sick increase greatly when it rains, yet I saw lots of surfers at Lifeguard Station 26 and at Pico Kenter storm drain in the disgusting water. The trend in our data is pretty clear – about 10 months of good water quality during the dry season followed by spikes of Enterococcus in the wet season and with this heavy rain we definitely got a spike."

Benjamin Kay, Marine Biology teacher at Santa Monica High School and club advisor said: “It’s a plastic-laden bacterial soup out there. I checked out the surf at Santa Monica Beach this morning, and plastics were strewn all over the sand near the water. My students’ research confirmed why health officials say to stay out of the surf for 3 days after a rain. I gambled and surfed some very enticing waves, and now have a minor earache. Coincidence?”

Teach and Test students inform over 10 local surf shops and other businesses about their results on a weekly basis. Stores then post the results using their “safe to surf?” water quality boards that the students helped make and distribute with Surfrider Foundation.

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