Annual Report 2011 - Protecting Water Quality
Page 6 of 13
PROTECTING WATER QUALITY
Since the Citizen Water Quality Monitoring Program began in 2005, we have expanded from 9 to 35 monitoring sites ranging from Elk River to Little River. The program utilizes trained volunteers to monitor the health of local waterways. Sampling events are primarily used to identify hotspots, trends, and changes in current conditions that could prompt additional investigation. The program educates Citizen Monitors about water pollution and how to reduce such pollution through individual actions. We are in the process of strengthening the program with input from experts at Pacific Watershed Associates, and with those recommendations, we’ll be sampling local waterways early in 2012.
In August 2010, Humboldt Baykeeper used its 5 years of Citizen Monitoring data as the basis for recommending that the Regional Water Quality Control Board list six streams as impaired under the Clean Water Act due to extremely high levels of the pathogenic bacteria, E. coli. In addition, high fecal coliform levels have resulted in temporary closures of several local beaches by Humboldt County’s Ocean Monitoring Program. Humboldt Baykeeper’s Citizen Monitoring Program is the only source of water quality data upstream from these beaches. Though we are still awaiting the Regional Board’s decision, the listing could result in better land use policies and funding for projects to reduce polluted runoff to these streams, which ultimately flows into Humboldt Bay and the ocean, putting residents and the oyster industry at risk.
In 2012, we hope to begin a project correlating our water monitoring results with field assessments to prioritize on-the-ground projects that can best improve water quality by reducing impervious surfaces, improve stormwater infiltration, and increase riparian vegetation to filter polluted runoff.