The first Saturday in May has always been a special date for the Coastal Watershed Council. For 20 years, this date has marked our annual Snapshot Day event held in collaboration with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. During Snapshot Day, hundreds of community scientist volunteers gather to monitor regional water quality along California’s Central Coast and collect valuable water quality data.

For the first time in over two decades, CWC is not holding Snapshot Day. Shelter-in-place orders, social distancing guidelines and CWC’s commitment to keeping our community safe from the threat of COVID-19 made it clear that holding our typical in-person event was not wise. Instead, on what should have been our 21st consecutive year of celebrating this community water quality event, we are proud to share ways that you can continue the spirit of Snapshot Day at home.

CWC has developed a variety of family-friendly digital activities for you to learn about water quality, healthy watersheds and what you can do to help make our rivers and streams as healthy as they can be. The beauty – and the beast – of water quality is that achieving and maintaining clean water relies on every person, business and property owner to do their part.

Neighborhood Pollution Detectives

Explore your neighborhood to learn about stormwater runoff and water pollution. Survey your neighborhood for signs of pollution and learn how you can help prevent that pollution from getting into our storm drains, rivers and the Monterey Bay.

Let's Stop Erosion Design Challenge

Let’s Stop Erosion Design Challenge

Streambank erosion can increase sediment in streams, making it hard for aquatic life to thrive. You will investigate the causes of erosion, learn about tools to stop erosion and then design your very own erosion prevention tool.

Only rain down the storm drain

Only Rain Down the Storm Drain

Investigate your neighborhood to find the nearest storm drain. Storm drains drain water from storms to prevent streets from flooding. Learn why it is important to keep storm drains clean and why it is important to only have rain go down our storm drains.

Neighborhood Trash Study

Neighborhood Trash Study

Be a community scientist and help collect valuable data! Explore your neighborhood streets to document how much trash you see and learn about the different ways that trash impacts our community and watersheds.

We invite you to take action today for a cleaner river tomorrow. As you enjoy these at-home activities, please share your adventures with us! Email CWC River Scientist Whitney Reynier at or tag @CoastalWatershedCouncil on Instagram or Facebook.

To further celebrate Snapshot Day, take a look at the 20 Year Trend Report recently published by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! This report is based on 20 years of water quality data collected by Snapshot Day community scientists. This neat infographic summarizes major takeaways from the report.

Snapshot Day 20 Year Infographic

Thank you to our local Snapshot Day funders for supporting this virtual Snapshot Day programming: City of Santa Cruz, City of Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz County. If you’d like to stay up-to-date on local water quality information, please visit the County’s Environmental Health – Water Quality webpage.

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