Improve Water Quality
Water falls from the sky as a gift, it is free, and ready to drink. But upon arrival it interacts with the environment that mankind has created. Rooftops, driveways, expansive lawns, roads, the list keeps going on, but all of this has the chance to impair water quality and lead to storm water runoff or combined sewage overflows that wreak havoc on coastal water quality. Our Ocean Program exists to improve coastal water quality and starts with every drop that lands on the island and the path it takes to the ocean. This includes watersheds, rivers, streams, brooks, ponds and coastal waterways, and is part of a program that include regular water quality monitoring, timely identification of pollution sources, and effective remediation plans.
Overview of active efforts
Ocean water quality monitoring – Every Thursday morning the community works together to collect water samples at thirteen locations that are tested for Enterococci (indicator of warm-blooded animal waste) to determine if bacteria levels are safe for swimming. The locations are popular swimming and surfing locations, and are not necessarily tested by the Department of Health. This program keeps a laser focus on the importance of water quality year-round, and how our action on lands impacts the health of our ocean. To learn more on how to get involved, please visit our community scientist page.
Watershed water quality monitoring – Every Saturday the community works together to collect water samples at eight locations that are tested for Nitrogen and Phosphorus to determine if excess nutrients are in our watershed. The locations are along Bailey Brook and Maidford River. This program keeps a laser focus on the importance of water quality year-round, and how our action on lands impacts the health of our drinking water. To learn more on how to get involved, please visit our community scientist page.
Bacterial source tracking – On a regular basis the teams above collect an additional water sample at some of these locations and it is tested to determine if the bacteria or nutrients are coming from anthropogenic sources. If high levels of chlorine or surfactants or ammonia are found in these samples, it allows us to quickly inform the local and state officials for remediation. To learn more on how to get involved, please visit our community scientist page.
Education and Outreach – Our education and outreach activities are aligned with our community scientist efforts so that a hands-on student-led experience can have the greatest chance of fostering environmentally responsible behaviors and promoting stewardship in our community via action. For complete information about education and outreach opportunities, please visit our education page.
Analytics and Reporting – Data becomes information and information becomes knowledge that informs our decision making to improve water quality. With over fourteen years of water quality results we have amassed an incredible data set that empowers our organization. All of our data is available for the public and our annual Ocean report can be found on our reports page.
Advocacy – Our main goal is to bring about systemic change is to connect the community with the environment, educating, inspiring, and empowering to foster environmentally responsible behaviors. However, some forms of water quality problems require advocacy and policy. From our first efforts to raise awareness in 2006 of off-season pollution to projects for storm water pathogens in 2017 , virtual beach monitoring in 2018, and bacterial source tracking in 2019, we continue to take action to work toward year-round permanent clean water.
Map of locations for water quality monitoring
Frequently asked questions
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Since our first water sample collected in September 2006 to the end of 2019 the community has accomplished these incredible results to improve water quality.
Number of monitoring locations
Total amount of samples collected
Hours of volunteer service
Get involved, volunteer, and become a community scientist!
There are many ways to get involved with our efforts to improve coastal water quality, along with our other programs and project. Please visit our community scientist page.