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Ventura County Relaunches BWTF

The Ventura County Chapter has officially relaunched their Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) program!

To conduct their water quality testing program, the chapter is partnering with students from the Foothill Technology High School’s Environmental Club to collect water samples and process them in the lab. This program gives students an opportunity to learn about local water quality concerns and contribute directly to important community information on the safety of Ventura’s beaches. Uniquely, the chapter also received support from Elizabeth Sieglinger, a graduate student studying Conservation Biology at Miami University, who was able to weave the Blue Water Task Force into her graduate program. Elizabeth will be running pre- and post assessments to measure how the BWTF program impacts attitudes and understanding of water quality issues, levels of civic engagement about environmental issues, and attitudes about participating with Surfrider and other non-profit organizations. 

Back in 1994, Ventura County was one of the first chapters to start a BWTF water quality testing program. The chapter successfully raised awareness of local water quality concerns, which spurred Ventura into becoming one of the first counties in California to establish a recreational water quality monitoring program in 1998. A year later, California launched a statewide beach program that provided water quality monitoring at all heavily used beaches during summer months. With the passage of the BEACH Act at the federal level in 2000 and even more monitoring coverage of state beaches, the chapter decided to stop their BWTF water testing program, and instead directed interested volunteers to participate in the Ventura River Stream Team water quality program run by the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper. Learn more about the revolution of the Ventura County Chapter’s BWTF program here

In recent years, concerns over water quality have surfaced during the winter months when the Ventura County Department of Health is sampling less frequently. Recreational use of ocean beaches often increases during the winter months, and surfers who enjoy winter storm swells are often exposed to pollution brought to the beach by stormwater and urban runoff.  The Ventura Chapter’s new BWTF water testing program will help meet the local community’s need for year-round water quality information so surfers and other ocean recreationists can protect themselves from being exposed to poor water quality conditions that can cause ocean illness.

Foothill Technology High School students in the field collecting water samples on their first Blue Water Task Force sampling run.

The chapter is testing five locations for bacteria to supplement the Ventura County Department of Health’s Water Quality Monitoring Program. Shannon Shoup, the Blue Water Task Force Coordinator for the Ventura Chapter has been coordinating with the County to ensure the chapter’s water sampling methodology and schedule best compliments the County’s existing program,  producing impactful data for beachgoers in Ventura County.

Click here to see the Ventura County Blue Water Task Force sampling locations and current water quality conditions. Click here to view the County’s data.

Long Live Clean Water!

Hero Photo: Woody Woodword