What is the Blue Water Task Force?
On the national scale – the Blue Water Task Force is Surfrider Foundation’s volunteer-run water testing, education and advocacy program. Chapters use this program to alert citizens and officials in their communities about water quality problems and to work toward solutions. The BWTF has demonstrated success by identifying problems with beach and coastal water pollution, raising public awareness of these incidents and working collaboratively with local stakeholders to find and implement solutions.
What is the San Diego Chapter's mission for the Blue Water Task Force?
Our current focus is two-parts:
- To support the Clean Border Water Now program which works to raise awareness surrounding the Tijuana River Valley cross-border pollution issues; and
- To expand and support water quality testing programs in San Diego and help fill in data gaps, raise awareness, and help educate the general public about regional water quality issues
What is Volunteer Program?
Each Thursday, volunteers spend 1-2 in the morning collecting water samples from 7 locations in San Diego, transporting them on ice, and processing them within our lab. On Fridays, they interpret the results of their findings and upload them to the website.
We then send out our findings via social media and email to local officials, interested community members, and other networks.
What are you testing for?
We are testing for Enterococcus, a fecal indicator bacteria. The EPA uses this bacteria as an indicator to determine if a recreational area is safe for public use. Enterococci are indicators of the presence of fecal material in water and therefore, of the possible presence of other disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. These pathogens can sicken swimmers and others who use rivers and streams for recreation or eat raw shellfish or fish. Other potential health effects can include diseases of the skin, eyes, ears, and respiratory tract.
How do you test for Enterococcus?
We use an EPA-approved 24-hour detection test, Enteroalert by IDEXX
Basically, samples are diluted and mixed with a reagent and sealed in Quanti-Trays and incubated for 24-hours. The following day, the Quanti-Trays are examined under a UV light and the count of fluorescent wells are compared to a most probable number (MPN) table that gives a predetermined range of bacterial levels for that sample.