As an avid SUP surfer, the ocean means the world to me. Most other water sport enthusiasts will tell you how much they enjoy being in their favorite place as well, whether it is on the ocean, river or lake. Over the years, we as water people have watched the water quality decline in many of our favorite places to paddle. In most bodies of water, there has been a change in water clarity, odor, and amount of marine life, and it’s all because of some type of water pollution. The fact that these changes are so noticeable because they have taken place at such a rapid rate is frightening.
“Water pollutants are considered to be microbes, nutrients, heavy metals, organic chemicals, oil and sediments and are typically the cause of major water quality degradation around the world. Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and other effluents drain into the world's waters. Every year, more people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war.”-- World Water Development Report 3 'Water in a Changing World'
Seeing the effects of water pollution where I live in Florida with runoff from the farming and sugar industries as well as from sewage and septic leaks has really opened my eyes to our water quality crisis. I wanted to do something to bring others’ attention to this, but felt helpless. Fortunately as a Surfrider member, I was able to learn about a water quality testing program called Blue Water Task Force. This program is used to test recreational waters for bacteria called Enterococcus, which is found commonly in sewage. This program is used to bring awareness of the pollution problem to those who enjoy these waters.
The Sebastian Inlet Surfrider Chapter has been testing within the Brevard County area in Florida for 5 months now and bacteria levels within the Indian River Lagoon have been consistently elevated. At one point or another, we have found bacteria at all of our testing sites. These results have been quite surprising and have had an overwhelming response within our community. People are interested and want to know where the sources of the pollution are coming from and how they can put a stop to it. This has also gained interest with the Marine Resources Council and the Indian River Lagoon Coalition who want to collaborate together to test more sites and present our data to public officials.
It is very promising that in just 5 short months, this program has gotten people’s attention and they want to see a change. Whether you enjoy water sports, occasionally go to the beach, or drink water, poor water quality impacts everyone.
If you’re interested in learning more about Surfrider Foundation’s Blue Water Task Force and how you can make a change, click here.
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