Blue Water Task Force, Partnerships, Source Identification
July 31 2009

Watershed Partners: Sending Volunteers Upstream and Out to Sea

by Mara Dias

The Rhode Island Chapter and the Chapters in Ventura and San Diego Counties in California are maximizing their BWTF volunteer efforts by partnering with other environmental organizations. While the two California chapters are sending volunteers up into their watersheds to collect water quality information with volunteers from other community groups and environmental organizations, the Rhode Island BWTF volunteers make up the beach component of their state watershed program.  

While the Chapters bring manpower and enthusiasm to these watershed programs, their partners take responsibility for training, data management, and all of the logistics of running water-testing laboratories. These successful partnerships are great models for volunteer water testing programs. Learn more about each program below.

Ventura County, California
Ventura Stream Team began early in 2001 as a partnership program of Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and the Ventura Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Coordinated by the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, Stream Team recruits and trains community members to take part in monthly water quality monitoring sessions. Although the Cities and Counties test ocean and creek water weekly at many spots, there is no regular and comprehensive testing of either the Ventura River watershed or the Goleta Slough watershed. The obvious action is to go up-stream, and test the water at every major reach and junction to locate the 'trouble' spots.

Learn more on the Ventura River Stream Team's website or check out this video

San Diego, California
Volunteers from the San Diego Chapter are heading upstream to perform watershed testing. Coastkeeper engages hundreds of dedicated citizen volunteer water monitors, providing useful water quality information to the general public, and partners with a wide variety of regulatory agencies, academic institutions, businesses and non-profit organizations.

San Diego Coastkeeper’s Watershed Monitoring Program strives to:
• supplement the limited water quality data resources available,
• protect sensitive ecosystems,
• identify and abate pollution sources,
• track the effectiveness of pollution prevention plans and
• prevent further degradation of our precious water resources.

Learn more on the coastkeeper website or watch their training presentation.

Rhode Island
The Rhode Island Surfrider Chapter’s Blue Water Task Force collects water samples for bacterial analysis on a monthly basis. Volunteers collect samples from twelve popular beaches throughout Rhode Island. Once collected, samples are sent to the University of Rhode Island's Watershed Watch laboratory, where they are analyzed for traces of E. Coli, Fecal Coliform and Enterococcus bacteria.

The University of Rhode Island Watershed Watch Program is a statewide volunteer monitoring program. It focuses on providing current information on the water quality of surface water resources throughout Rhode Island, including lakes, ponds, reservoirs, rivers, streams and the marine environment.

The goals of this program are:
• To promote active citizen participation in water quality protection.
• To educate the public about water quality issues.
• To obtain multi-year surface water quality information in order to ascertain current conditions and to detect trends.
• To encourage sound management programs based upon water quality information.

For more information, visit the URI Watershed Watch website.