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The Clean Water Program

Clean water.  Everyone wants it, right? We might have different ideas on what the perfect day at the beach looks like, but we all agree that dirty water doesn’t fit into that picture.  Nobody wants to get sick from swimming or surfing in polluted water.

Unfortunately we haven’t done a great job of managing growth and development along our coasts, and we see the effects of this when pollution taints our beaches and coastal waters.

The largest source of beach pollution is storm water runoff.  Rather than soaking into the ground, rain typically flows off of paved and manicured city, residential and agricultural landscapes, picking up contaminants as it flows downstream through the watershed and into the ocean.  Leaking and overflowing sewer pipes, septic systems and discharges from factories and wastewater treatment plants also pollute coastal waters.

To combat these multiple sources of water pollution, Surfrider's Clean Water Program has grown into a suite of complementary programs, campaigns and tools that Chapters and activists can use to help solve water pollution problems and to educate communities about the many benefits of responsible land and water management.

The Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) is Surfrider’s volunteer water testing program.  This program is used to determine the condition of beach water and to raise community awareness of local water pollution problems.  Many Chapters also work collaboratively with local stakeholders to find the sources of water pollution and implement solutions.  To find out where the BWTF is testing, visit the website.

Ocean Friendly Gardens educates and assists people in taking action in commercial or public spaces, or their own yards to prevent pollution.  By applying CPR (Conservation, Permeability and Retention), Ocean Friendly Gardens capture rainwater on-site before it can leave the property and carry pollutants to the ocean.  Learn more at the Ocean Friendly Gardens website.

On a larger scale, Surfrider Foundation’s newest program, Know Your H2O (KYH2O), educates communities on how we mis-manage and waste our precious water resources, and presents solutions for integrated land and water management. Our animated movie “The Cycle of Insanity: The Real Story of Water” is shown across the country to help Chapters start dialogues in their local communities about the various challenges and solutions relating to water management. 

Chapters are also running KYH2O campaigns to take the “waste” out of our outdated wastewater (sewage) treatment system by eliminating ocean discharges and cleaning up the water for safe and beneficial re-use.  Learn more about local, state and federal clean water campaigns by visiting the campaign page on our website.



We are also continuing to develop resource articles to better inform community activists that are leading our clean water programs and campaigns.  See what articles are available or contribute your own by visiting Beachapedia.

Most water quality and conservation issues can’t be resolved overnight but will require long term planning and commitment.  Surfrider’s Clean Water Program provides tools for our Chapters and activists to use as we strive to protect and enjoy our oceans, waves and beaches.