Blue Water Task Force
Our Science-Based Approach
The Blue Water Task Force is Surfrider’s volunteer water quality monitoring program that provides critical water quality information to protect public health at the beach. Surfrider chapters use this program to raise awareness of local pollution problems and to bring together communities to implement solutions.
Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) labs measure fecal indicator bacteria levels in recreational waters and compare them to water quality standards set to protect public health. Chapter-run BWTF programs fill in the gaps and extend the coverage of agency-run beach monitoring programs by sampling ocean and bay beaches, estuaries and potential freshwater sources of pollution such as stormwater outlets, rivers and creeks that discharge onto the beach.
View Your Local Water Quality
Our Local Program
The South Sound Chapter regularly samples eleven public beaches in the Tacoma area for bacterial pollution.
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.