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 Santa Cruz Chapter established its BWTF water testing program over 20 years ago, in 1993, and has since been building a historical record of water quality at area beaches and freshwater outlets from Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz down to Manresa State Beach in Watsonville, CA. There are currently twelve BWTF volunteers in Santa Cruz that collect water samples from 17 local beaches every week. Samples are processed at the chapter’s lab located at the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. A map of sampling sites and all water quality results can be viewed at Surfrider.org . ( http://www.surfrider.org/blue-water-task-force) The Surfrider Chapter also shares its data via social media and gives educational presentations in local schools to build community awareness of local water quality conditions. The Santa Cruz Chapter has also used their citizen science program to provide comprehensive water quality information from the surf zone between Main Beach and Steamer’s Lane in Santa Cruz to support the Cowell Beach Working Group’s investigation of local sources of pollution. Partnering with the City, County and other local NGOs, the Surfrider Chapter participates in this Working Group to develop management recommendations to improve local water quality conditions at Cowell’s Beach.
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