The 18th Annual Snapshot Day took place on Saturday, May 6, 2017. 55 volunteers visited 43 sites from Año Nuevo Creek to the Pajaro River to get an annual “snapshot” of water quality in Santa Cruz County.
Led by the Coastal Watershed Council, volunteers from Santa Cruz joined other citizen scientists across the Central Coast to study the state of water quality in local waterways. Volunteers conducted field monitoring and collected samples for lab analysis. When lab results are received, CWC staff compared outcomes of water quality parameters to water quality objectives set by the EPA and other regulatory agencies and outcomes from previous Snapshot Day monitoring and then compiles the results in the 2017 Snapshot Day Report.
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This year we found improvements in water quality samples when compared to previous years. All sites met water quality objectives for nitrate and 93% of sites met objectives for orthophosphate, an improvement from the 90% last year. Data also demonstrated a decrease in bacteria with 95% of sites meeting the E. coli water quality objective and 69% of sites meeting the total coliform objective. This year an additional analytical method was utilized in measuring bacteria, enterococcus, which is more reliable in water with higher salinity. Bacteria levels were, in almost all cases, higher in urban areas, a reminder of our human contribution to bacteria in the environment.
Environmental data, by its very nature, is highly variable, and conclusions are often difficult to make based on limited data points. Snapshot Day is just one tool we can use to check in with streams and sloughs and determine if there is need for closer water quality examination.
Thank you to the dedicated 2017 Snapshot Day volunteers. Many thanks to the City of Santa Cruz, City of Scotts Valley, City of Watsonville and County of Santa Cruz for the support of citizen science work monitoring and to our events sponsors: Balance Hydrologics, Fall Creek Engineering and Whole Foods Market.
Save the date for Snapshot Day 2018 on Saturday, May 5, 2018. If you’re interested in getting involved, sign up below: