Clean Water Initiative
The goal of Surfrider Foundation's Clean Water Initiative is to reduce and eliminate ocean pollution so it is safe to surf, swim and play in the ocean. Surfrider chapters and activists are building awareness of local water pollution problems and advocating for solutions that can protect local water supplies and prevent pollution from reaching the ocean.
Chapters support the Clean Water Initiative by engaging with their communities through clean water programs: Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) and Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG). They also run campaigns against projects that will cause pollution and advocate for wise management of our land and water resources.
What is the Problem?
The urbanization of our coasts has altered and polluted the natural water cycle. In undeveloped, natural areas, rainfall is absorbed by soil and plants, percolates through the soil to underground aquifers or flows into local streams. Rooftops, pavement and other impervious surfaces in urban and residential areas prevent rain from soaking into the ground and instead direct polluted runoff straight towards the ocean. At the same time, we are wasting valuable freshwater by using it once, mixing it with our waste, and then discharging it, partially treated, into the ocean. This is threatening the long-term security of our water supply and polluting our coastal waters.
Sources of Beach & Ocean Pollution
- Number 1 Source of Beach Closures & Advisories
- Point (end-of-the-pipe) discharges
- Factories, Power Plants, Desalination Plants
- Pets & Wildlife
What are the Solutions?
Our efforts to protect local water supplies, manage waste and prevent pollution are all connected. Surfrider advocates for practical and environmentally sound solutions that can restore the water cycle and natural functions of coastal ecosystems to protect local water supplies and prevent pollution from reaching the ocean. This holistic, watershed-based approach also helps support resilient and healthy coastal communities and economies.
A watershed is a geographic area in which all sources of water, including rainfall, snow melt, streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, and ground water, all drain to a common surface water body, generally the ocean in coastal areas.
Ecosystem Services Provided by Healthy, Naturally Functioning Watersheds
Healthy watershed provide the following "free" ecosystem services:
- Hold rain and absorb water into the ground for flood control
- Soil & plants filter out pollutants from water
- Water percolates through the soil to re-charge ground water and maintain stream flows
- Transport of sand to the beach by natural rivers & streams
- Provide wildlife habitat
- Carbon sequestration by plants & soil
The Surfrider Foundation advocates for solutions that can restore the water cycle and natural functions of coastal ecosystems to protect local water supplies and prevent pollution from reaching our ocean, waves and beaches. This watershed-based approach also helps support resilient and healthy coastal communities and economies. Here's how Surfrider Foundation works to protect our watersheds and prevent pollution:
- 1. Water Quality Monitoring
- Testing the water at the beach lets us know where it is safe to swim and surf, and helps identify pollution problems so they can be fixed.
- 2. Ocean Friendly Gardens
- Applying CPR - Conservation, Permeability and Retention – to your garden conserves water, creates habitat for wildlife, filters and reduces runoff from your landscape, and absorbs carbon dioxide.
- 3. Green Streets
- Capturing rainwater in vegetated areas next to streets and paved parking lots allows water to soak into the ground, which recharges groundwater supplies, reduces flooding and prevents polluted runoff from reaching the beach and ocean.
- 4. Reuse and Recycle Water
- 5. Watershed Restoration
- Natural rivers and creeks maintain stream flows for wildlife and transport sand to our beaches. Wetlands are natural sponges, filtering out pollution and reducing flooding by helping water soak into the ground for our use later.
Read more about the Clean Water Initiative in action. This case study of the Ventura County Chapter, describes their multi-pronged efforts to promote clean water and restore ecosystem function throughout the Ventura River watershed.
Clean Water Initiative Hand-out
Clean Water Initiative Brochure: print-ready version
Beachapedia.org : Surfrider's on-line coastal knowledge resource. Topics relevant to water pollution and clean water solutions available here.
The Cycle of Insanity. Watch this film to learn more about how we have polluted the natural water cycle and how we can take a holistic approach to restore coastal watersheds, protect local water supplies and keep pollution from reaching the ocean.
Ocean Illness Reporting Tool. You can track incidents of skin infections, gastro-intestinal symptoms and other ocean illnesses at your local beaches with this on-line, sickness reporting tool.
Stay current with Surfrider's Coastal Blog. Clean Water Topics: Water Quality, Blue Water Task Force, Ocean Friendly Gardens and Know Your H2O.
Clean Water Contacts
Blue Water Task Force, clean water campaigns & Ocean Illness Form: Mara Dias firstname.lastname@example.org
Ocean Friendly Gardens & green streets: Paul Herzog email@example.com
Beachapedia, sewage treatment, wastewater recycling & desalination projects: Rick Wilson firstname.lastname@example.org
Rise Above Plastics: Angela Howe email@example.com