This summer, the Capitol-Olympia Chapter of Surfrider is kicking off  a Blue Water Task Force program for the very first time in the chapter’s history. In partnership with Washington’s Department of Ecology and Thurston County, the Capitol-Olympia Chapter will be taking water samples, testing for bacteria, at Priest Point Park beach every other week on Tuesday, starting on May 24th and continuing to the end of August. The Department of Ecology and Thurston County will be processing the results and posting them online. Members are welcome to come and assist with the water sampling. Please RSVP to olysurfrider@gmail.com as sampling is tide dependent. 

Last month, the Capitol-Olympia Chapter commented on the Department of Ecology’s Draft BEACH List and requested that Priest Point Park be added to the list of sample sites for 2016. The chapter expressed in the comment letter that it was able to provide volunteer sample assistance. As a result, this will be the first time since 2004 that the Department of Ecology has sampled Priest Point Park as part of the BEACH program.  Due to proximity to non-point pollution sources, Priest Point Park beach has a permanent swim advisory.  It is recommended that if you have contact with the water, you rinse off after use. The other BEACH sample site in Thurston County is Burfoot Park beach.

The chapter is very excited to be able to partner with the State and County to ensure the safety of recreational use of Washington’s amazing beaches. It is important to have current data in order to assess the water quality of special places we enjoy so much. Ecology’s BEACH Program is funded by the Beach Act, which is annually under pressure to be defunded at the federal level. If you do not have the time to volunteer, please take one minute to support funding this critical program by clicking here and signing this petition. You deserve to know if a day at the beach could make you sick!

To look up the results once the program has started, please visit https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/coastalatlas/Tools/BeachData.aspx or http://www.surfrider.org/blue-water-task-force/chapter/48. If you are interested in water quality, advisories, and closures at saltwater beaches you use, please visit https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/coastalatlas/Tools/BeachClosure.aspx. For more information about the Department of Ecology’s BEACH Program and for updates on beach advisories, like Ecology on Facebook and sign up on the BEACH Listserv for email updates.