Constant Pressure, Endlessly Applied

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Planning a Water Testing Program

BWTF 2013 Annual Report

BWTF 2012 Annual Report

BWTF 2011 Annual Report

Water Sampling Instructions  &  Sampling Data Sheet

BWTF Lab Instructions for IDEXX Quant-tray/Enterolert method

MPN Table for the Quantitray Sealer

How-to videos posted by IDEXX for using the Quantitray Method with Enterolert or Colilert

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.

Reducing Plastic Waste: Using an Autoclave & Glassware in the Lab

Source Tracking Guides for Bacterial Pollution

For more, see our Blue Water Task Force page on Beachapedia.

Ditch Plains, NY and the Fate of the East Deck Motel

August 22 2014

Ditch Plains, NY and the Fate of the East Deck Motel

Beach Access Blue Water Task Force Coastal Preservation Shoreline Armoring Surf Protection Water Quality

The very modest 30-room East Deck Motel sits right next to Ditch Plains, a premier surf spot in Long Island. It has been sold and the new owners plan a huge members-only resort and entertainment complex, 2 stories, over 30,000 square feet including deck and pool with 100 parking spaces, many underground. The LLC formed with some secret silent partners goes by the name of ED40 and so does the proposal that would forever change the nature of this place.

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New Beach Signs Warn the Public of Polluted Conditions

July 22 2014

New Beach Signs Warn the Public of Polluted Conditions

Blue Water Task Force Water Quality

One of Surfrider’s newest BWTF labs in Montauk, NY, has already contributed to better community awareness of bacterial contamination at a local beach. Armed with their first year of data, they were able to convince the Town of East Hampton to post a warning sign of a chronic bacteria pollution problem at a beach favored by families with small children.

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Marin County: sharing BWTF data to inform public policy decisions

July 07 2014

Marin County: sharing BWTF data to inform public policy decisions

Blue Water Task Force Water Quality

The Marin County Chapter has been sharing their volunteer water quality data with local officials and the media as plans are made to increase recreational access to a chronically polluted bay & wetland area and the County struggles to remediate aging and failing sewer infrastructure.

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BWTF 2013 Annual Report

June 03 2014

BWTF 2013 Annual Report

Blue Water Task Force Water Quality

Surfrider is pleased to release the 2013 Blue Water Task Force Annual Report. The Blue Water Task Force is our volunteer-run water testing program that Chapters are implementing to protect their local waves, beaches and coastal ecosystems.

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Port Orford BWTF: Engaging the community around the Red Rocks Marine Reserve

June 03 2014

Port Orford BWTF: Engaging the community around the Red Rocks Marine Reserve

Blue Water Task Force Partnerships Youth Water Quality

The Port Orford BWTF in Oregon is a collaborative effort between the Curry County Surfrider Chapter, the Redfish Rocks Community Team the local School District, providing citizen-science opportunities in and around the Red Rocks Marine Reserve.

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Blue Water Task Force on Eastern Long Island, New York

June 03 2014

Blue Water Task Force on Eastern Long Island, New York

Blue Water Task Force Partnerships Water Quality

During the summer of 2013, the Eastern Long Island Chapter began water quality testing at some of the most popular swimming and surfing beaches on Long Island, extending the BWTF's presence on the East Coast. The Chapter is using this new water testing program to raise public awareness of local water quality challenges.

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San Luis Obispo BWTF: Building capacity to investigate local pollution problems

June 03 2014

San Luis Obispo BWTF: Building capacity to investigate local pollution problems

Blue Water Task Force Partnerships Source Identification Water Quality

The San Luis Obispo SLO BWTF began 2013 as a small water testing program with two volunteers who conducted weekly sampling at two sites. Throughout the year, the Chapter’s BWTF Coordinator built a team of dedicated water samplers and testers that are out monitoring eleven sites on a weekly basis.

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BWTF launches in Virginia Beach

May 02 2014

BWTF launches in Virginia Beach

Blue Water Task Force Water Quality

On Sunday, April 6, 2014 the Virginia Beach chapter initiated their BWTF water quality monitoring program! They sampled 3 ocean beaches, and happily all three sites tested clean. The Chapter plans to track the water quality at these sites as the weather gets warmer and the summer crowds arrive.

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Building a model urban watershed & water management system in Ventura, California

March 21 2014

Building a model urban watershed & water management system in Ventura, California

Blue Water Task Force Know Your H20 Low Impact Development Water Recycling Ocean Friendly Gardens Water Quality

For the past two decades, the Ventura Chapter has been identifying problems and promoting solutions for clean water throughout the Ventura River watershed. Their proactive urban watershed program is helping to protect water supply and quality, coastal habitats and recreational opportunities by restoring ecosystem function throughout the watershed.

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Beach Programs Fall Victim to Federal Budget Cuts Again

March 06 2014

Beach Programs Fall Victim to Federal Budget Cuts Again

Blue Water Task Force Water Quality

The President's FY2015 budget released by the White House this week once again proposes to eliminate all federal funding for the EPA Beach Grant program that supports water testing at beaches around the country.

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Kauai Ocean Safety Report

March 03 2014

Kauai Ocean Safety Report

Blue Water Task Force Water Quality

The Kaua'i Chapter publishes a summary of their water testing findings in their local paper every year. This is a great way to reach their local community with information on which beaches are clean and where local pollution problems exist.

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US Beach Water Testing Programs Saved

January 17 2014

US Beach Water Testing Programs Saved

Blue Water Task Force Water Quality

The US Congress passed a 2014 funding bill that restores funding for the EPA Beach Grants program that supports beach water testing programs in coastal states across the country. The President signed the compromise bill promptly, averting another government shutdown.

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Brown Water Advisories on Kaua’i:  Too little, too late?

December 11 2013

Brown Water Advisories on Kaua’i:  Too little, too late?

Blue Water Task Force Water Quality Illness

After capturing media attention with high bacteria levels measured during a Brown Water Advisory in November, the Kaua'i Chapter keeps the momentum going and questions the effectiveness of these public health advisories. They would like the advisories issued sooner, to cover more beaches, and require signs at the beach.

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Blue Water Task Force Water Testing with VW’s New XL1

November 26 2013

Blue Water Task Force Water Testing with VW’s New XL1

Blue Water Task Force Partnerships Youth Water Quality

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Heavy Rain, Brown Water & Bacteria, Oh my!

November 13 2013

Heavy Rain, Brown Water & Bacteria, Oh my!

Blue Water Task Force Water Quality Illness

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.

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Beach Pollution in Rincon, Puerto Rico

November 12 2013

Beach Pollution in Rincon, Puerto Rico

Blue Water Task Force

The Rincon Blue Water Task Force is warning surfers & beach go-ers of high bacteria levels detected at beaches in Northwest Puerto Rico at the end of last week.

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Welcome Aboard Montauk, NY!

August 29 2013

Welcome Aboard Montauk, NY!

Blue Water Task Force Partnerships Water Quality

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.

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Water Testing Video

August 14 2013

Water Testing Video

Blue Water Task Force

Check out this quick video of the OR Field Manager, Charlie Plybon, demonstrating how water quality samples are processed in the lab.

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Looking for pollution solutions on the North Coast of Oregon

August 14 2013

Looking for pollution solutions on the North Coast of Oregon

Blue Water Task Force Partnerships Solutions Source Identification Water Quality

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.

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Saving Beach Water Testing Programs

August 13 2013

Saving Beach Water Testing Programs

Blue Water Task Force Water Quality

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.

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Mara Dias mdias@surfrider.org