South Sound

Blue Water Task Force


The South Sound Chapter regularly samples eleven 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 “Find a Lab” tab.  Results from the South Sound Chapter  can be found under Washington -South Sound and then clicking on “Full Report”.

South Sound Surfrider and Harbor WildWatch 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 Blue Water Task Force Coordinator Stena Troyer and Biological Science teacher, Matthew Lonsdale.

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 Pierce County Health Department 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.


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


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.