Thank you to all of the community scientists and other volunteers who attended the 20th Annual Snapshot Day on Saturday, May 4!

Snapshot Day is the largest and longest running single-day water quality monitoring event in California. Every year, trained volunteers of all ages spend the day exploring and collecting water quality data from 125 waterways across four Central Coast counties, including San Mateo County, Santa Cruz County, Monterey County and San Louis Obispo County. Santa Cruz County Snapshot Day volunteers started their day in San Lorenzo Park, a public park adjacent to the lower San Lorenzo River in downtown Santa Cruz. Volunteers were welcomed by Coastal Watershed Council staff, City of Santa Cruz Mayor Martine Watkins, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s Water Quality Protection Program Director, Bridget Hoover. Bridget also shared some exciting news: Snapshot Day was recently recognized by Congressman Jimmy Panetta at the United States Congress for its 20-year history and ongoing success!


Every year, Snapshot Day volunteers contribute to a single day “snapshot” of water quality of coastal streams impacting the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This year in Santa Cruz County, a total of 60 volunteers monitored 44 sites on rivers and streams county-wide, ranging from Año Nuevo Creek to Corralitos Creek. At each site, volunteers measured water pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, conductivity and transparency/turbidity. Volunteers also collected water samples to be tested for bacteria, nutrients, and microcystin (a toxin produced by blue-green algae). Volunteers observed site conditions, noted any birds, fish, and aquatic invertebrates present, took lots of photos, and cleaned up trash, leaving the riparian and stream corridors cleaner than they found them.

Volunteer-collected field data and water samples from Snapshot Day will be analyzed and used to better understand the health of coastal watersheds and the broader Monterey Bay ecosystem. Some local waterways are only monitored once a year during Snapshot Day, meaning that volunteers provide critically important data that otherwise wouldn’t be available. Data collected during this year’s Snapshot Day will be used to assess long-term trends in stream health, helping water resource managers identify areas with impaired water quality for targeted management intervention. Snapshot Day data will also be used to inform continued development and implementation of best management practices for water quality improvements by local citizens, businesses and agencies.

This year’s Snapshot Day was particularly momentous, as it marked the 20th annual implementation of this event. With this legacy comes some pretty amazing statistics. Over its 20-year history, Snapshot Day has been supported by 3,783 volunteers! These volunteers have donated 18,915 hours’ worth of work, totaling $384,021 towards protecting water quality of local watersheds and the Monterey Bay. THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS! Snapshot Day would not be possible without you! The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary will be performing a 20-year trend analysis of Snapshot Day data, so check back in the coming months for both this 20-year trend report and the 2019 Snapshot Day report! 

Thank you again to the amazing volunteers and Snapshot Day sponsors, including the City of Santa Cruz, the City of Scotts Valley, the County of Santa Cruz and Balance Hydrologics, Inc. We are also very grateful to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Woodstock’s Pizza, and Charlie Hong Kong for keeping volunteers well fed and smiling all day long.

Save the date for next year’s 21st Annual Snapshot Day, the first Saturday in May – Saturday, May 2, 2020! We hope to see you there!

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