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The Surfrider Foundation's 2023 Clean Water Report

The Surfrider Foundation believes that everyone should have access to clean water to surf, swim and play in. With the upcoming Memorial Day weekend kicking off the unofficial start to summer, the Surfrider Foundation is releasing our 2023 Clean Water Report to build awareness of issues that affect water quality at the beach. This comprehensive annual report highlights the successes of our Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) and Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) programs in 2023, and features case studies of chapters leveraging these clean water programs to pair local pollution problems with solutions. 


During 2023, 57 BWTF labs processed 9,538 water samples collected from 567 distinct sampling sites. Once again, Surfrider Foundation chapters broke all previous testing records with more labs, more sampling sites, and more water quality tests performed than ever before. During 2023, the San Francisco Chapter in California and the Cape Fear Chapter in North Carolina both launched new BWTF programs


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Chapter BWTF programs are designed to fill in the gaps and extend the coverage of state and local agency beach programs. Surfrider Foundation volunteers test beaches that are not covered by agencies, and also monitor potential sources of pollution, such as stormwater outlets, rivers and creeks that discharge onto the beach. The Blue Water Task Force operates year-round, providing public health protection through the off-season, when lifeguards leave the beach and health officials stop collecting water samples. Last year, 362 of the 567 beaches and sampling sites tested yielded at least one high bacteria result that exceeded state health standards. This shows the importance of regular water quality monitoring at the beach to protect public health and promote safe recreation. 

Surfrider’s data is also revealing chronic pollution problems and helping to focus local efforts to restore clean water. The 2023 Clean Water Report features ten priority beaches from the East Coast, West Coast, Puerto Rico and Hawai’i where Surfrider Foundation chapters are consistently measuring high bacteria levels that exceed state health standards for recreational water. These priority beaches represent a variety of recreational waters and access points that are important to local communities, yet water quality conditions could be putting public health at risk.

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At each of these beaches, the local chapter’s Blue Water Task Force program is working hard to build awareness of the pollution problems and to provide their communities with critical public health information. The ultimate goal is to find and fix the sources of pollution and to restore clean water locally. 

Upstream, Surfrider chapters are digging into their Ocean Friendly Gardens programs to help solve water quality problems caused by stormwater and urban runoff. Chapters use this sustainable landscaping and educational program to connect how we care for our yards and public spaces with the resulting health of our local waterways and beaches.

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Through their grassroots campaigns and programs, Surfrider is working hard to ensure that the beaches and ocean are clean and safe for all people to enjoy for generations to come. Learn more about how Surfrider’s national network of coastal advocates are fighting at the local, state and federal levels to protect clean water in the 2023 Clean Water Annual Report. Case studies feature:

  • Los Angeles County, California- Building partnerships and spreading Ocean Friendly Gardens to protect clean water and resilient communities in Southern California 
  • Eastern Long Island, New York- Growing Ocean Friendly Gardens and Blue Water Task Force to a grand scale with community partners
  • San Diego, California- Advocating for solutions to one of the most significant public health and environmental justice emergencies in the country.  

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