South Sound

Blue Water Task Force

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The South Sound Chapter regularly samples eight public beaches in the Tacoma area for bacterial pollution.  To view our latest data, visit Local Water Quality Results.  A continuous record of data collected over past years can be seen by clicking on the map tab at a specific beach, and then clicking on “view beach data”.

Surfrider volunteers collect the water samples and deliver them to the Tacoma Public School’s Science and Math Institute (SAMi) where high school students perform the analysis under the supervision of their teacher, Mr. Johnny Devine.

We coordinate with the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Marine BEACH Program to ensure that our sampling protocols align with those of agency programs.  High bacterial levels are reported to the Marine BEACH Program immediately.  As with any water-testing program, the South Sound Chapter’s data only reflects results taken at one location on the day sampled, and do not guarantee that the beach is bacteria-free.

The Marine BEACH Program works with the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department and does its own weekly sampling of local beaches during summer months.  Information on results and beach closures can be found at  Ecology’s BEACH website .

In collaboration with the Marine BEACH Program, we are revising our sampling procedures (taking a single sample rather than a five-sample composite) starting in October of 2014.  We will also stop monitoring during the summer months, which duplicates the work the Marine BEACH Program is already doing, in favor of expanding the number of samples and beaches from fall to spring, when the Marine BEACH Program is inactive, but divers and paddlers are still using our Puget Sound waters.

WANT TO HELP PROTECT OUR BEACHES?

To volunteer for Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force during the fall, winter and spring, or to ask any questions, please contact Ben DeGoede at benjamin@windmillgarden.com.  We will provide training and materials if you would like to help us expand the number of beaches we monitor.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Learn more about beach monitoring programs and water quality issues in Washington in the water quality section of Surfrider’s State of the Beach, Washington State Report or check out the WA State summary in NRDC’s Testing the Waters Report.  To find out about Surfrider’s international Blue Water Task Force program, check out Surfrider National Info.

Stay updated about beach water quality at Washington beaches with the Dept of Ecology through their Fecal Matters Blog Facebook, or Twitter account.

September 2020 Update

We are stoked to announce that our chapter’s Blue Water Task Force will be back in action this month after a long break due to the COVID-19 quarantine! This is one of our main volunteer-powered programs, and rain or shine our BWTF Citizen Scientists collect samples throughout the year at 8 South Sound sites to provide critical water quality information to protect public health at the beach, raise awareness of local pollution problems, and bring together communities to implement solutions. 

Our BWTF Citizen Scientists test for elevated levels of enterococcus, which is a is fecal bacteria generated by both humans and animals that is generally not harmful. However, when levels are too high, it can indicate the presence of more dangerous microorganisms and viruses.

We partner with Washington Department of Ecology, Metro Parks Tacoma, and Tacoma Science and Math Institute’s students and faculty who perform the analysis of the water samples.  

A HUGE thank you goes out to our Blue Water Task Force Coordinator Ben DeGoede and his team of citizen scientists, Washington Department of Ecology, Metro Parks Tacoma, and Tacoma Science and Math Institute’s students and faculty. Their work is an example of the effectiveness of community science.

If you are visiting Tacoma’s waterfront for essential exercise during #StayHomeStayHealthy look for our new Blue Water Task Force beach signs! These signs are posted at our Tacoma testing locations and serve to inform beachgoers that the beaches are monitored for water quality by the South Sound Chapter of Surfrider Foundation. Check out the latest water quality results here so you can be better informed about our local beaches. Under normal conditions, readings are updated monthly. https://bwtf.surfrider.org/explore/29 

Thanks to Washington Department of Ecology for the Summer readings!