Blue Water Task Force
Surfrider Foundation's volunteer water quality monitoring program
Water Testing Labs
The Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) supported by Volkswagen and Emergen-C Blue ® is the Surfrider Foundation’s volunteer-run, water testing, education and advocacy program. Our chapters use this program to alert citizens and officials in their communities about water quality problems and to work toward solutions. The BWTF has demonstrated success by identifying problems with beach and coastal water pollution, raising public awareness of these incidents and working collaboratively with local stakeholders to find and implement pollution solutions.
The BWTF has also precipitated the establishment of state and local government water quality monitoring programs in many communities and continues to fill in data gaps, improving the public's knowledge of the safety of their beach water. BWTF water testing programs measure bacteria levels at both marine and freshwater beaches and compare them to federal water quality standards established by the EPA to protect public health in recreational waters.
As clean water becomes an increasingly scarce resource, Volkswagen and Emergen-C Blue are committed to supporting, enhancing and extending the efforts of the Blue Water Task Force. Additionally, for every box of Emergen-C Blue sold, 20 cents is donated directly to the BWTF to further the important work it is doing to improve water quality.
BWTF Lab Instructions for IDEXX Quant-tray/Enterolert method
MPN Table for the Quantitray Sealer
Video demonstration of water sample preparation in the lab
Ocean Illness Form. Use this web-based tool to collect reports of people getting sick from swimming or surfing at your local beaches. Chapters can set up “alerts” on the site that will send them emails whenever a report is submitted within their designated area.
What's in the Water? 1-page handout
Video featuring Santa Monica High School students describing their testing program and their local pollution issues. Illustrates sample collection and reading lab results.
BWTF Manual circa 2003
Video Surfrider Foundation Europe Ocean Report: Water Quality & Health, this 11 min video provides a good overview of beach pollution issues, health impacts of pollution & how beaches are monitored and managed in Europe. Most issues are very relevant to US too. Good educational video to show BWTF volunteers or students.
Source Tracking Guides for Bacterial Pollution
November 13 2013
While the Hawaii State Department of Health issued a Brown Water Advisory on Kaua'i last week, Surfrider's Blue Water Task Force measured extremely high bacteria levels at stormwater impacted streams and beaches.
August 29 2013
The BWTF is continuing to grow on the east coast. The Eastern Long Island Chapter and their local partner, Concerned Citizens of Montauk, have just gotten the newest BWTF water testing lab up and running this summer.
August 14 2013
The North Coast BWTF met with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to better understand the sources of pollution at Oswald West State Park responsible for the health advisories issued at Short Sands Beach.
August 13 2013
We are very happy to see a draft funding bill from the US Senate proposing to restore funding for the EPA Beaches Grant program, but there is still work to do to ensure that beach water testing programs across the country survive the latest round of federal budget cuts.
July 29 2013
When we talk about 'Scoop the Poop' campaigns, we are usually talking about dogs. That is not the case at Larrabee State Park in Washington State where Northwest Strait Chapter volunteers are cleaning up after raccoons. Find out why.....
May 31 2013
The Heal the Bay Surfrider Club at Santa Monica High School just conducted a mentorship program introducing over 40 middle school students and their teachers to water testing methodology and local water pollution issues.
May 31 2013
The latest batch of water samples tested by the Rincón Chapter showed high levels of bacteria present at local beaches. Here's their BWTF Coordinator's explanation of water quality problems in their corner of Puerto Rico, as sent out with their weekly water quality report.
May 20 2013
Read about the long and complicated path the Northwest Straits Chapter has followed to discover, investigate and help solve water pollution problems at Larrabee State Park in Bellingham, Washington. Written in the Chapter Chair, Eleanor Hines, own words.
April 12 2013
The President's budget for FY2014 once again fails to include any funding to support beach water testing programs. It is disappointing that the Administration continues to be penny-wise and pound-foolish, ignoring the huge public health costs and potential risk to coastal tourism economies that these cuts will bring.
April 09 2013
Involving local high school and college students in relevant, water pollution, scientific studies is a big part of the Kaua'i Chapter's BWTF program. This past year they mentored a record number of students. Keep reading to see the impressive areas of study they tackled.
April 08 2013
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is one of California’s most important laws—not only because it helps protect our environment and “quality of life”, but CEQA also promotes democratic participation in the decision-making process—giving citizens a say in what happens in their local communities. Unfortunately over the past few years, developers and polluting industries have been attempting to weaken CEQA through legislation. If special interests succeed in weakening CEQA, California’s natural resources could suffer from unchecked development, and the public will lose its ability to require developers to address environmental impacts.
March 04 2013
A frequent problem in coastal watersheds is detection of high bacteria counts at beaches. Tracking the sources of the bacteria back up rivers, creeks and storm drains is difficult, time consuming and costly. But there may be a better way - using a trained, sewage-sniffing dog. We wrote about the success of Sable and other dogs trained by Scott Reynolds of Environmental Canine Services in Michigan in 2009. Sable's exploits have led to a group of dogs from Sonoma and Marin Counties in northern California being trained by Scott to identify the presence of raw sewage in creeks and other natural waterways and in storm drains.