NOAA05-R494
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ben Sherman
11/8/05
NOAA News Releases 2005
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs


CITIZEN VOLUNTEERS SAMPLE NATURE’S ‘FIRST FLUSH’
OF STORM WATER INTO MONTEREY BAY SANCTUARY

During the first rains of the season, enthusiastic citizens in five central coast cities braved the elements to sample the “First Flush” of storm water flowing into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This storm water carried with it months of accumulated litter, oil, chemicals and other pollutants that were washed off city streets and flushed through storm drains, making its way directly into the sanctuary. This polluted runoff is one of the largest sources of pollution in the sanctuary.

Volunteers have been on call since late September waiting for the rains to come. On November 8, 2005, 71 people collected water samples from 24 different locations in the cities of Pacific Grove, Monterey, Capitola, Santa Cruz, and Live Oak. The water samples collected will be analyzed in a laboratory for metals, nutrients, bacteria, oil and grease and suspended sediment.

“Coastal cities and their residents have a crucial role to play in reducing the amount of pollutants in urban runoff,” said Sanctuary Superintendent William Douros. “We are excited that more cities want to participate in First Flush and learn about the quality of the water flowing off their streets and into the marine sanctuary.”

This is the sixth year for the “First Flush” monitoring event. Previous years of First Flush monitoring have revealed high concentrations of metals at several of the outfalls and significant toxicity as well. Orthophosphate and bacteria concentrations have been high while nitrate and oil and grease have been minimal at most locations.

“First Flush monitoring provides a core dataset that helps us to identify hotspots for follow up action,” said Sanctuary Citizen Watershed Monitoring Network Coordinator Bridget Hoover. “The results from this program enable local officials and resource managers to better understand how to effectively address water quality concerns and provides an important feedback mechanism on current urban runoff control efforts,” she said. First Flush monitoring sites were also sampled prior to the rain to begin to assess where urban runoff is flowing year round and what pollutants are in the dry weather flow. For copies of previous First Flush reports, please go to the link: http://montereybay.noaa.gov/monitoringnetwork/events.html

This event is made possible by the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Citizen Watershed Monitoring Network and the Coastal Watershed Council. The event is funded by the cities of Pacific Grove, Monterey, Seaside and Santa Cruz, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The event is held in collaboration with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, the cities of Capitola, Live Oak, and Scotts Valley and the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation.

The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Citizen Watershed Monitoring Network, established in 1997, is a consortium of approximately 20 citizen monitoring groups that monitor the health of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The Coastal Watershed Council is a Santa Cruz-based nonprofit organization committed to the preservation, protection and management of coastal watersheds.

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary stretches along 276 miles of central California coast and encompasses more than 5,300 square miles of ocean area. Renowned for its scenic beauty and remarkable productivity, the sanctuary supports one of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems, including 33 species of marine mammals, 94 species of seabirds, 345 species of fishes and thousands of marine invertebrates and plants.

The NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase public awareness of America’s ocean and Great Lakes treasures by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one coral reef ecosystem reserve that together encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

The NOAA National Ocean Service manages the Sanctuary Program and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans and works to balance environmental protection with economic prosperity in its mission promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with our federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

On the Web:

NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

NOAA’s National Ocean Service: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov

NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary: http://montereybay.noaa.gov