The Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) is the Surfrider Foundation’s citizen science program which provides valuable water quality information to beach communities, raises awareness of local water pollution problems and works collaboratively with local stakeholders to implement solutions.
Surfrider’s network of 30+ volunteer-run BWTF labs measure bacteria levels at ocean and bay beaches and in freshwater sources, and compare them to the national water quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency to protect public health in recreational waters.The Marin County Chapter supports two groups of students in two local schools to perform their Blue Water Task Force water testing program.
The Marin County Chapter partners with two local high schools to conduct their BWTF water testing program. Since 2007, the student scientists of the Branson School Water Quality Team have been running a BWTF lab at their school under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Surfrider volunteers have been collecting weekly water samples at Bolinas and Stinson Beach and Bay Front Park in Mill Valley and delivering them to Branson School where dedicated student volunteers process the samples in the lab and record the results online.
The students alert the Surfrider chapter if any high results are recorded, and the chapter's BWTF Coordinator in turn sends notice to their County health department. Water quality measured at the ocean beaches is generally very good, but often, nearly 40% of the time, samples collected from Bay Front Park located on Richardson's Bay in Mill Valley, fail to meet bacteria standards for recreational exposure. The chapter has been sharing their data with local authorities to advocate for finding and fixing the local sources of pollution and to warn against proposed projects that will increase public exposure to this bacterial pollution.