First Flush is the first significant rain of the season. When it hits, CWC volunteers are ready.

In September, well before the rains arrived, CWC trained 22 adventurous volunteers in water quality monitoring methods and supplied them with gear, instruments and sample bottles. These volunteers were First Flush-ready.

After a month of vigilant storm tracking and few close calls—the First Flush storm hit Capitola the evening of October 15. Volunteers headed to their sites around 7:00 pm and began monitoring soon after. What started out as a trickle from the storm drains, turned into gusher as rain swept the streets, sidewalks and gutters of Capitola and funneled into Soquel Creek, where volunteers were waiting.

Teams visited 8 sites: five storm drains that discharge into Soquel Creek and three sites on the creek itself. Volunteers took field measurements, looked out for trash and signs of sewage and filled sample bottles to be tested for bacteria, metals and nutrients. CWC delivered these samples to Monterey Bay Analytical Services where lab staff spent their Saturday night processing 64 sample bottles.

First Flush data allows CWC to examine the water quality of the discharge and the receiving waters. We’ll see what pollutants are building up during dry months and washed into local streams when the first rains hit. This data helps CWC and our partners identify best management practices and community behavior changes that can help keep our water clean. Look out for the First Flush report to be released early 2017.

Thank you to everyone who made First Flush 2016 possible:

Thank you to all the committed and dedicated volunteers that made another First Flush monitoring event possible. And what a team at Monterey Bay Analytical Services who stayed up late to get the work done! We’re so grateful to you! Many thanks to Lulu Carpenter’s for their gift of coffee that powered our early morning training. And many, many thanks to the City of Capitola Public Works Department for supporting ongoing work to monitor water quality in the Soquel Creek watershed and educate our community about stormwater. Thank you!

Check out this fun video of the volunteers getting ready for the rain:


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