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.
Since 2007, the Rincon chapter has been collecting weekly tests at over 25 recreational sites, including several marine and freshwater sites in and around Rincon. After the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria in the Fall of 2017, there was a complete lack of any government-run water quality monitoring. Operating out of a primary lab in Rincon and secondary lab at the Ramey School in Aguadilla, the Rincon Chapter has banded together with local groups and organizations to restart their water testing program.
With the support and direction of CariCOOS, an University of Puerto Rico graduate student has also just started sampling several new sites at Cabo Rojo, Boqueron and Buyé beaches as well as her research project in Guánica at Playa Santa. With the addition of these beaches, the Rincón BWTF is now basically covering the entire western coast of Puerto Rico while the government-funded beach program run by the Junta de Calidad Ambiental remains in-operational.
The chapter has also began sampling over 10 drinking water sources, empowering the local community to generate their own information on the safety of recreational waters and sources of drinking water.