Blue Water Task Force, Partnerships, Updates, Beach Act, Water Quality
June 15 2016

The Capitol Chapter in Olympia, Washington Launches its BWTF Program

by Brice Boland

by Mara Dias and Sasha Medlen

This summer, the Capitol-Olympia Chapter of Surfrider is kicking off a Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) water testing program for the very first time in the chapter’s history. In partnership with  Washington’s Department of Ecology and Thurston County, the Capitol-Olympia Chapter will be collecting water samples to test for bacteria at Priest Point Park beach. The chapter started sampling four sites in Priest Point Park on May 24, and will continue to sample on a bi-weekly basis until the end of August. The Department of Ecology and Thurston County is processing the samples and posting the results online.

In April, the Capitol-Olympia Chapter commented on the Department of Ecology’s Draft BEACH List and requested that Priest Point Park be added to the list of sample sites for 2016. In their comment letter, the chapter volunteered to help collect water samples from the park.  The Department of Ecology was receptive to the chapter’s offer to help and met the chapter volunteers in the field to provide training in proper water sampling technique. Because of collaboration, this summer will be the first time since 2004 that the Department of Ecology has sampled Priest Point Park as part of the BEACH program.  Due to proximity to non-point pollution sources, Priest Point Park beach has a permanent swim advisory, and it is recommended that you rinse off after any contact with the water at this beach. The other BEACH sample site in Thurston County is Burfoot Park Beach.


Sasha taking the first water sample at Priest Point Park

The Capitol Chapter is very excited to be able to partner with the State and County to ensure the safety of recreational use of Washington’s amazing beaches. This new relationship builds upon a solid history of successful collaboration between the State and County run BEACH water quality monitoring programs and Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force in Washington. The NW Straits Chapter and their successful partnerships with the State and Whatcom County to build community awareness of water quality issues and to work together to solve pollution problems has paved the way for other chapters to establish similarly successful collaborations. The South Sound Chapter in Tacoma, is very closely aligned with the State and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s Swimming Beaches program, and the Olympic Peninsula Chapter started sampling Hollywood Beach in Port Angeles last year in partnership with Clallam County. Read more about the history and evolution of the Blue Water Task Force in Washington on the Washington Chapters regional page.


Bundled up for a perfect WA style Blue Water Task Force testing day.

The Capitol Chapter invites their local members to come and assist with their water sampling program. Please RSVP to olysurfrider@gmail.com as sampling is tide dependent.  You can also visit the BWTF website to view their latest test results or check the Department of Ecology’s website for statewide information on beach closures and advisories.

If you aren’t local to Olympia, or don’t have the time to volunteer, please take one minute to support funding for beach water quality monitoring programs in Washington and other coastal states by sending an email to Congress and asking them to continue to fund the BEACH Act. Just click here to participate in Surfrider’s action alert.

For more information about the Department of Ecology’s BEACH Program and for updates on beach advisories, like Ecology on Facebook and sign up on the BEACH Listserve.  Know before you go!