Vancouver Island Surfrider Foundation | Official Website


The Blue Water Task Force is the Surfrider Foundation’s volunteer-run water testing education and advocacy program.

The goals of the program are to promote environmental stewardship our community and ensure safe and healthy access to coastal habitats for generations to come.

Beaches that we will be targeting for the BWYTF program:


Enterococcus (MPN/100 ml)

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


  • Bowker Creek
  • Cadboro Beach
  • Chatham Island
  • Clover Point
  • Discovery Island
  • Elk Lake
  • Esquimalt Lagoon
  • Esquimalt Lagoon (open water)
  • Fleming Beach
  • Gonzales Beach
  • Gorge Waterway (lower)

Where does the pollution come from?

Victoria’s Sewage problem, Storm Drain Run-Off

What can we do?

1. We can try to reduce our waste into the ocean by being careful of what we flush down our toilets. For instance, not flushing harmful chemical cleaners or plastics down our toilets and avoiding using fertilizers and pesticides on our lawns will keep these out of our oceans.

2. Choosing to bring re-usable plastics bags on shopping trips will reduce the amount of plastic bags floating in the water.

3. Coming out to beach-clean up events and supporting initiatives that work towards reducing wastes and protecting habitats.

The two bacteria we are testing for are really specific to animal waste and tell us whether there is fecal matter in the water. If our tests indicate that there are high concentrations of the bacteria it also tells us that there are likely other bacteria and possibly viruses present that could hurt us.

Bacterial are found in our bodies and help us to digest food and keep us healthy. Some bacteria are harmful to us though if we swallow them or get them into our system by swimming in polluted water.

The higher the bacteria levels we find in the water the greater the chance is of someone getting sick if they swim in and ingest the water. The size of the bacteria population is measured in colony forming units. This tells us how many colonies of bacteria we might expect to find in the water we test. For the Enterococcus bacteria we’re testing, if we find 0-35 colony forming units we know that the water is safe for swimming, 36-104 units and the waters are becoming contaminated and pose a risk of getting sick if we swim in them, and greater that 104 colony forming units indicates that government regulators should likely do some testing and possibly close the beach to swimming.

There are many labs across the Canada and the United States that are testing for this. The data that you will be collecting today will be added to an international effort to keep our coasts healthy. It will be published in an online map for people to see and use to decide which beaches are polluted and should be the focus of conservation efforts.

Our Partners

Without the help of our sponsors, the endeavours that we have set out to achieve would not be possible.