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 Northwest Straits (NWS) Chapter’s BWTF program is a Citizen Science program that engages college students and the public in the process of sampling, analyzing, and disseminating water quality data. In the summer of 2005, Bri Silbaugh initiated the Blue Water Task Force within the Northwest Straits Chapter. When BWTF began here in Bellingham, Surfrider tested for enterococcus twice a week for the duration of the summer. The program died down briefly and then started back up again in May of 2006, when Katie Booth and Linda McGuiness revamped the BWTF. Sampling occurs once a month. This program traditionally analyzed samples for E. coli and total coliforms, but transitioned to sampling enterococcus Fall 2012. Our BWTF currently samples at six different sites in Bellingham: Larabee State Park (Wildcat Cove), Mud Bay, the mouth of Padden Creek, Little Squalicum Beach, Locust Beach and the Nooksack River Delta. Currently, the Northwest Straits Chapter has several volunteer interns helping to collect samples each month. Some volunteers even take a lab training to participate in the laboratory preparation and analysis of samples. If interested in becoming involved, please email Eleanor Hines at nws@surfrider.org.
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