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Water Quality Program

Since 2005, our Citizen Water Monitoring Program has worked to document the present condition of local streams and sloughs, to identify problem areas for future monitoring, and to find solutions that reduce such pollution. Our monitoring covers both the dry weather period in late summer and the "First Flush," when autumn's first major storm sends pollutants washing off streets into storm drains and creeks. Our volunteers are also monitoring McKinleyville’s waterways, which flow into the Mad River or directly into the ocean. We recently conducted a flow study with Pacific Watershed Associates to measure the fecal coliform loads in four tributaries of Humboldt Bay, with the goal of sampling target streams more intensively to pinpoint pollution sources and work to reduce or eliminate them. Thanks to the dozens of dedicated volunteers and partners who help make our program successful! To get involved, email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .   



Citizen Water Monitoring Data Draws Attention from State Regulators

Using Humboldt Baykeeper’s 2005-2009 Citizen Water Monitoring data, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board staff recently recommended six waterways for listing under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act due to bacterial pollution (E. coli).

 

Photo: Children play in Little River at Moonstone Beach, one of the waterways recommended for listing. March 22, 2014.

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Fecal Coliform Loads Measured in Four Arcata Creeks

At long last, a rainy February enabled us to augment our 2013 flow study with wet weather data to calculate the mass volume of fecal coliform bacteria in four Humboldt Bay tributaries (Janes, Jolly Giant, Jacoby, and Campbell Creeks).

 

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First Flush 2012: Jolly Giant Creek

This year, First Flush brought approximately 1.23” of rain on October 16 in Arcata. On October 10, we collected dry weather samples in partnership with Humboldt State University students.

Since 2005, Humboldt Baykeeper’s Citizen Water Monitoring Program has sampled streams from Elk River to Little River. This year, we focused on Jolly Giant Creek in Arcata to try to pinpoint sources of fecal coliform. Jolly Giant Creek has shown consistently high fecal coliform levels in our past monitoring events, and is thought to be a major contributor to fecal coliform levels in Humboldt Bay.

We sampled E. coli levels at 5 sites representing a range of land uses, including forested areas, a restored section of creek, former industrial areas, and residential areas. These samples were analyzed for E. coli levels by North Coast Laboratories in Arcata, and will also be analyzed at Humboldt State University using molecular techniques to identify source animals based on gene sequencing. During First Flush, we found the highest concentrations of E. coli in the downstream sites (see graph).

Through these efforts we hope to identify sources and eventually develop solutions that could reduce or eliminate this form of water pollution.

Thanks to Todd Kraemer of Pacific Watershed Associates; Kerry McNamee, Anthony Baker, and Racquel Selcer of Humboldt State University; funding from the Cereus Fund and Humboldt Area Foundation; and all of our past and present Citizen Water Monitors—too many to list here!

Click HERE to download the water sampling results.

For more info, contact jkalt AT humboldtbaykeeper.org.

 

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2012 Water Monitoring Results: Fecal Coliform an Ongoing Concern in Local Streams

 

On February 13, Humboldt Baykeeper staff and 20 trained Citizen Scientist volunteers monitored water quality after a storm at 29 sites in the Humboldt Bay area. This monitoring event was held to compare mid-winter water quality with previous results from “First Flush” monitoring (just after the first major rainstorm of the year), when pollutants that have built up over the dry season are suddenly flushed into waterways). Samples were analyzed for pH, temperature, conductivity, fecal coliform, phosphates, heavy metals, nitrates, and dissolved oxygen.

Since 2005, our water monitoring efforts have found extremely high fecal coliform levels after “First Flush” compared with “Dry Weather” monitoring done in August.

In many streams, the levels are much higher than the recommended limit for recreational waters (waters that people come into contact with while swimming, wading, surfing, boating, etc.). The recommended limit is 400 MPN/100 mL is the limit for recreational waters, while <1 MPN/100mL is the standard for drinking water.

In 2009, 42% of our sites were considered unsafe for contact recreation during dry weather monitoring (>400 MPN/100 mL). During First Flush, 85% of our sites had E. coli levels above 400 MPN/100 mL. In mid-winter, after several months of rain, 64% of the sites exceeded 400 MPN/100 mL (see graph below).

 

Click HERE to enlarge map.

 

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Humboldt Baykeeper's Citizen Monitoring Program Seeks Solutions to Improve Water Quality
Written by Jennifer Kalt for Forest & River News   

Our programs involve scientists, boaters, fishermen, birdwatchers, students, and other concerned citizens in the important work of protecting and enhancing water quality for the long-term health and enjoyment of our shared community. Our diverse supporters and volunteers provide us with a wide range of tools to use in tackling the health of our communities' waters.

 

Simply put, we work for clean water, which is essential for happy and healthy populations. Clean water supports healthier fisheries, which in turn support healthy bird and wildlife populations. For the human community around the bay and coast, this means more lucrative fisheries, as well as world-class birdwatching, bird hunting, and clean water for recreating, including boating, surfing, diving, and swimming. Our work requires the participation and commitment of our community.

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