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Surfrider Foundation’s 2022 Clean Water Report Reveals High Bacteria Levels at Beaches Across the Nation  

Report shows that 19% of water samples tested across the nation indicate high levels of bacteria that exceed water quality criteria

San Clemente, Calif., May 31, 2023 - The Surfrider Foundation today released its annual 2022 Clean Water Report to protect public health and clean water for all people. The report highlights Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Gardens program and results from the Blue Water Task Force, the largest volunteer-run beach water testing program in the country. The data from Surfrider’s water quality program reveals that 19% of water samples tested nationwide measured high bacteria levels that exceed state health standards for recreational water.

In 2022, Surfrider’s 53 Blue Water Task Force labs tested 9,095 water samples collected from 496 distinct sampling sites. Surfrider’s results show that 70% indicated low bacteria levels, 11% had medium bacteria levels, and 19% measured high bacteria levels that exceed water quality criteria, or Beach Action Values, set by each state to protect public health in recreational waters.

“Through Surfrider’s Clean Water Initiative, we strive to protect water quality and reduce pollution so it’s safe to surf, swim and play in the ocean and in our coastal waterways,” said Surfrider’s Water Quality Initiative Senior Manager, Mara Dias. “As nearly 10 trillion gallons of untreated stormwater runoff flow into U.S. waterways every year, Surfrider chapters and activists are building awareness of water pollution problems and advocating for solutions to protect clean water and healthy coastal ecosystems for all people.”

Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force data reveals chronic pollution problems and locations where local chapters are leading efforts to restore clean water. The report also highlights ten priority beaches from across the U.S. where Surfrider chapters are consistently measuring high bacteria levels that exceed state health standards. Surfrider volunteers test beaches that are typically not covered by state and local agencies, and monitor potential sources of pollution, such as stormwater outlets, rivers, and creeks that discharge onto the beach. Communities can find out how safe their local waterways are by checking the results of the Surfrider Foundation’s Blue Water Task Force labs across the country.

The Surfrider network is not only testing the water, but it is also leading the nationwide Ocean Friendly Gardens program to solve pollution problems caused by stormwater and urban runoff. This sustainable landscaping and educational program helps to inform communities about how to protect and conserve clean water and support resilient coasts.

Visit to read Surfrider’s Clean Water Report and learn how to get involved and help protect clean water and healthy beaches for the future.


About the Surfrider Foundation

The Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s ocean, waves and beaches for all people through a powerful activist network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over one million supporters, activists and members, with more than 200 volunteer-led chapters and student clubs in the U.S., and more than 800 victories protecting our coasts. Learn more at