The Surfrider Foundation's Delaware Chapter has been successful in convincing the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) to expand their beach monitoring program beyond the normal tourist season to year-round testing. The Chapter received numerous calls from local surfers who were experiencing some illness, mostly extreme sinus infections, after surfing. Most of these reports of illness originated from surfing near a stormwater outfall after some winter storms had passed through the area leaving behind good surfing conditions.
The Chapter organized a meeting in January 2007 with the State DNREC and the University of Delaware's College of Marine Studies to discuss their concerns with the water quality at their local surfing beaches and the lack of information and testing throughout the year. Both the State and the University were very receptive and agreed to start bi-weekly testing of seven ocean beaches during the "off-season". The first samples were collected in February. Chapter volunteers collect the water samples, and the analyses are performed at one of the College of Marine Studies water quality laboratories. The most recent water quality data are posted on DNREC's website.
Beyond the obvious benefit of providing water quality information to surfers and other beach-goers who swim and surf in the ocean outside of the normal tourist season, the Chapter has also established a good dialogue with the manager of the State's beach monitoring program, and they will be working cooperatively to investigate water quality issues that affect the ocean beaches. Congratulations to the Delaware Chapter for this important ocean victory.
Check out the local media coverage at http://www.capegazette.com/storiescurrent/200702/surferstest020207.html