The Government is Scaling Back Water Quality Protections. These Surfers are Picking up the Slack

In 1984, a little team of California surfers had been fed up with the growth and water air pollution at their favourite split, Malibu’s Surfrider Seaside. They took their environmental problems to California State Parks officials — and prevailed. The Surfrider Basis was born. 

Due to the fact then, the nonprofit has retained its concentrate on bettering coastal water quality. And for a lot more than twenty five yrs now, one particular of its most thriving attempts has been a massive citizen science challenge known as the Blue Water Process Power. It is the most significant volunteer-run seashore water screening software in the state. 

Each individual day, air pollution from city and agricultural runoff, sewage, animal waste and industrial discharges threaten water quality at American shorelines. These threats consequence in twenty,000 health advisories just about every calendar year in the U.S. to secure beachgoers from publicity to bacteria and other ailment-producing pathogens. The air pollution also fuels destructive algal blooms that endanger public health and wreak havoc on coastal ecosystems. 

blue water task force citizen science

Citizen experts operate with the Blue Water Process Power to acquire water samples all along U.S. coasts. All those final results are shared with the public, so men and women know if their community water is safe. (Credit rating: Surfrider)

Take Element: Sign up for the Blue Water Process Power

Citizen Science on the Coast

Even with these threats, the current federal administration is scaling back again funding and enforcement of water quality restrictions and courses. Huge and sweeping cuts in funding for the Environmental Defense Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — the federal agencies responsible for safeguarding cleanse water and healthy coasts — are also being deemed. This contains the proposed full elimination of the Seaside Act, which gives crucial assistance to coastal states to observe water quality at shorelines. 

These coverage modifications have built it a lot more crucial than ever to have citizen experts keeping an eye on the nation’s waterways. 

In coastal states all around the state, Surfrider citizen experts frequently go out into their communities to check seashore water quality. In 2019, the national community noticed fifty four chapter-led labs measure bacteria amounts at a lot more than 450 ocean, bay, estuary and freshwater sampling web-sites, according to Surfrider’s not too long ago introduced once-a-year report. Most of the water screening courses are made to fill in gaps and increase the protection of point out and community company seashore courses. 

So, Surfrider citizen experts generally check preferred shorelines that are not coated by federal government agencies. While they are there, volunteers also observe likely resources of air pollution, like stormwater outlets, rivers and creeks that discharge onto the seashore. The procedure carries on calendar year-spherical, providing public health defense by way of the offseason, when lifeguards leave the seashore and health officials prevent collecting water samples. Some chapters’ datasets go back again a long time.

The check final results are compared to water quality benchmarks set to secure public health in leisure waters and are posted on Surfrider’s web-site, so beachgoers know in which it is safe to surf, swim and participate in in the water. 


To enable increase water quality along the coastline, Surfrider volunteers also enable plant “ocean-friendly” gardens upstream, which can enable prevent pollutants from reaching the water. (Credit rating: Kilby Photograph LLC/Courtesy of Surfrider)

Volunteers Discover Sewage Spills

These citizen experts do not prevent at info collection, possibly. When check final results select up on prolonged-time period or seasonal traits of elevated bacteria amounts, the chapters implement their info to establish community awareness and motivate community determination-makers to acquire motion and resolve the resources of air pollution. Surfrider volunteers have correctly advocated for air pollution supply investigations and sewage and stormwater infrastructure advancement tasks in communities from coastline-to-coastline.

For case in point, sewage spills have plagued coastal waters throughout South Florida this past calendar year. During the initially 7 days of August 2019, volunteers had been out collecting water samples in Miami for their normal weekly sampling run. A sewage line had damaged in close by Biscayne Bay the night just before, and the volunteers calculated superior bacteria amounts at approximately all of their Atlantic Ocean seashore web-sites. Right after studying the final results, they made a decision to resample the next day. Surfrider’s final results and a “No Swim” advisory from the town had been shared with beachgoers that weekend just before the point out seashore software drew their initially samples next the sewage failure. 

To best secure oneself and your family’s health, constantly look at community water quality ailments just before you head to the seashore. All of Surfrider’s water check final results are accessible at, or you can accessibility your community company seashore advisories at 

Citizen science is a lot more crucial than ever, if you are intrigued in finding associated, go to to obtain a challenge in the vicinity of you. 

Mara Dias is Surfrider Foundation’s water quality supervisor, overseeing the organization’s cleanse water courses and campaigns. Colleen Henn is the software coordinator for the Blue Water Process Power, a national community of a lot more than 50 citizen science water quality checking labs.