Volunteers like you help California Waterkeepers safeguard our coastlines and waterways from urban runoff, which can have devastating consequences to aquatic communities and human health.
Stormwater runoff is the major cause of water pollution in urban areas. When rain falls on our roofs, streets, and parking lots in cities and their suburbs, the water cannot soak into the ground as it naturally should. Stormwater drains through gutters, storm sewers, and other engineered collection systems and is discharged untreated into nearby water bodies. Stormwater runoff carries trash, bacteria, heavy metals, and other pollutants from the urban landscape directly into our rivers, streams, and ocean. Higher flows resulting from heavy rains also can cause erosion and flooding in urban streams, damaging habitat, property, and infrastructure.
You can help by becoming a citizen scientist and detective. You can even stay dry — if you want to. Volunteers keep an eye out on local waters by gathering information about current conditions, snapping photos, and collecting water samples. This data collection and investigative work can identify pollution hotspots from industry, spur immediate improvements to local water quality, and create better regulations.
Many local government agencies have limited resources and they monitor infrequently, providing only a snapshot of water quality. To solve this problem, San Diego Coastkeeper trains over 100 volunteers to collect and analyze water samples from nine out of 11 watersheds in San Diego County. This data is used to force industry operators to install and use best management practices that will meaningfully reduce pollutants in our waterways.
Los Angeles Waterkeeper engages volunteers in areas like Downtown and South LA, Ports of LA and Long Beach, Sun Valley and the San Gabriel Valley, which are most heavily impacted by industrial pollution. If not operated properly during wet weather, facilities such as recycling plants, shipyards and construction sites can discharge a wide array of toxins to our waterways and communities. Los Angeles Waterkeeper gets over 500 high school students in low-income neighborhoods involved by combining STEM education with civic action engagement. This gives youth the opportunity to protect their communities and gain valuable experience for career and college.
To get involved or to find out how to report pollution, get in touch with a Waterkeeper near you.