Blue Water Task Force, Youth, Water Quality
October 07 2019

South Bay Kicks off 15th Year of Water Quality Monitoring, Going Above & Beyond to Engage Students

by Colleen Henn

The South Bay Chapter just hosted their 2019 kick-off event in partnership with Dive N Surf, their new Blue Water Task Force partner, to launch another school year of water quality monitoring through the Blue Water Task Force program (locally called Teach and Test). This kick-off event was held on International Coastal Cleanup Day, and featured a cleanup on the sand and in the water, and a tour of the new Teach and Test Lab at Dive N Surf. 

Photo courtesy Thomas from Dive N Surf.

The South Bay Teach and Test Program began in 2004 and is one of the longest standing Blue Water Task Force Programs. The goal of this program is to educate public middle and high school students about the monitoring of bacteria levels in ocean water in order to raise awareness and improve water quality in the South Bay.

Today, six local middle and high schools participate in the Teach and Test program. These schools include:  Parras Middle SchoolPalos Verdes High SchoolEl Segundo High SchoolMira Costa High SchoolRedondo Union High School, & Lawndale High School.

Throughout the school year, students coordinate with Surfrider Scientist Activists to collect bi-weekly water samples from twenty-one South Bay Beaches. The water samples are analyzed at Dive N Surf, their newly set up lab in Redondo beach under the oversight of two experienced lab scientists, and the results are published to enable citizens to monitor water quality in the South Bay area.

Teach and Test Students processing their first samples of the year. 

The Chapter also teams up with the schools to conduct a waste characterization study, supporting Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics program. Plastic trash is collected at one of the local beaches, then cleaned and sorted at the lab to determine the source of the trash (i.e. food wrappers, foam containers, bottles, and sports items).

As the school year is coming to an end, the students present their findings to adult allies, and go over ways they can continue to engage in community activism to prevent pollution from getting to the beach in the first place.

Here are the ways in which the South Bay Chapter goes above and beyond to bridge the gap between students, adult volunteers, and real-world water quality issues:

  • Students are given Teach & Test t-shirts to wear while sampling
  • The Chapter hosts an annual kick-off party where students get together with adult volunteers and mingle. This years joined forces with Coastal Cleanup Day
  • Certificates are given to student participatns for program completion
  • Students are brought on an annual field trip to the local wastewater treatment plant to learn more about the context of their participation in Teach and Test, learning more about local water quality treatment protocol and how that affects their monitoring
  • The Chapter hosts an end of the year party where students are able to present their findings. 

This program allows students in the South Bay, Los Angeles area the opportunity to generate data that can be used to promote local government awareness of pollution problems at local beaches. Without the generous funding of the West Basin Municipal Water District, the dedicated volunteers of the South Bay Chapter, and the teachers of participating schools, none of this would be possible.

Mary Simun, the South Bay Teach & Test's fearless leader, demonstrating lab techniques.

If you are interested in becoming an adult ally for the students of the South Bay, LA area, reach out to Mary Simun for volunteer opportunities.