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 Rhode Island Chapter's Blue Water Task Force collects water samples for bacterial analysis on a monthly basis year round. Volunteers collect samples from fifteen popular recreational areas throughout Rhode Island. Once collected, samples are sent to the University of Rhode Island’s Watershed Watch laboratory, where they are analyzed for Fecal Coliform and Enterococcus bacteria. The Rhode Island Chapter partners with the University of Rhode Island’s (URI) Watershed Watch program to implement its water testing program. Watershed Watch supports volunteers from local municipalities, NGOs and community groups across the state to monitor water quality in RI’s lakes, ponds, streams and coastal waters. Scientists at URI provide training, equipment and supplies to all participating volunteers and run a state-certified lab for sample analysis. This successful partnership provides the only source of water quality data at RI’s ocean beaches outside of the narrowly defined summer beach season when the State monitors water quality at licensed bathing beaches only. As surfers are in the water year-round and often away from lifeguarded beaches, BWTF data is filling the need to provide water quality information to ocean users across the state. Data collected through this program is used to determine pollution patterns and to inform local citizens and officials about the water quality of the Rhode Island coastline. Water quality results are available online on the Blue Water Task Force Website, Rhode Island Department of Health website, and sent out in a quarterly newsletter to all Watershed Watch volunteers state-wide.
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