Olympia Chapter

Blue Water Task Force


Our Olympia Chapter EC members with representatives from the Dept. of Ecology on the Priest Point Park beach during our Blue Water Task Force training.

BlueWaterTaskForce_140Olympia Surfrider is partnering with Washington’s Department of Ecology for our fourth year of testing for bacteria in the waters off of Priest Point Park. Surfrider volunteers will collect water samples once a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day.


Please email us at olysurfrider@gmail.com if you would like to join us! We are happy to meet with you to train you in proper water sampling protocols and walk you through the process. Sampling takes roughly 1 hour a week, as samples are collected at three locations along the beach and must be dropped off at the lab (near the Thurston County Courthouse by Capitol Lake).


Check out current conditions as well as results from the last few years of sampling. So far, the beach at Priest Point Park has low bacterial levels each time we’ve sampled.

Below is some information about how to interpret results:

Enterococcus levels are categorized by BWTF in the following levels, based on EPA standards:

  • (0-35) Low Bacteria
  • (36-104) Medium Bacteria
  • (> 104) High Bacteria

To protect swimmer health, Ecology’s BEACH Program also uses a Beach Action Value. If enterococcus levels exceed 104 enterococcus/100 mL, then a beach ADVISORY is issued.

If either of the following criteria is exceeded, the beach should be CLOSED to swimming.

  • The geometric mean shall not exceed 35 enterococcus/100 mL; based on results from a minimum of five weekly samples.
  • The enterococcus maximum should not exceed 276 enterococcus/100 mL.


In June 2016, the 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. Because of Surfrider volunteers’ efforts in collecting samples, 2016 was the first time since 2004 that the Department of Ecology tested the waters off of Priest Point Park as part of the BEACH program. Our volunteers have since continued to sample every summer since!

If you are interested in water quality, advisories, and closures at saltwater beaches you use, check out Ecology’s Coastal Atlas, follow their Facebook page, or subscribe to the BEACH Listserv for email updates. Check out Beachopedia.org for additional information on the federal BEACH Act and coastal water quality monitoring efforts in each state.

As with any water-testing program, the Olympia Chapter’s data only reflects results taken at one location on the day sampled, and do not guarantee that the beach is bacteria-free.