Volunteer Storm Team Elevates Water Quality Issues

The Takeaway: This effort helps coastal officials make decisions about shellfish harvesting.

An elite group of volunteers quickly mobilizes during heavy rain events along the Samish River in Washington State to collect important water quality data. This information is used by the coastal officials who make decisions about commercial shellfish harvesting and monitor water quality in the area.

“There is a fecal coliform problem in the Samish River,” says Susan Wood, for the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. “The problem was difficult to understand because agencies had limited time and money for sampling, especially on short notice when storm events create dramatically different results.” The all-volunteer Storm Team fills this void and does it well. Members use Padilla Bay’s volunteer lab, where fecal coliform tests are run, and the reserve provides 10 to 12 hours of annual training for the volunteers. Reserve staff members say that having more people out in the watershed who are aware of what’s going on has been very helpful in focusing attention on water quality issues. (2016)

Partners: Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve