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Monterey Bay Sanctuary Citizen Watershed Monitoring Network

About the Network | Watershed Map | Monitoring Protocols | Volunteer Data

About the Network

The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Citizen Watershed Monitoring Network (the Network) is a consortium of citizen monitoring groups that monitor the health of the eleven watersheds flowing into Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Since 1997 the Network has provided support, training, and a central forum for citizen monitoring programs creating integrated, long-term, volunteer-based water quality and watershed monitoring programs within Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and its accompanying watersheds.

The Network was created by the Ocean Conservancy and the Coastal Watershed Council (CWC) in association with the Sanctuary's Water Quality Protection Program (WQPP) and with assistance from a Clean Water Act 319 grant. Current Network funding is provided by Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, with oversight and assistance by a steering committee comprised of local water quality agencies, educational institutions and non-profits.

The Network's central vision is that properly organized citizen monitoring programs offer a valuable, cost-effective way to build an informed citizenry with knowledge of watersheds, pollution prevention measures, and threats to good water quality. Citizen data also can be used for water quality classification, watershed planning, non-point assessment, source tracking, and education.

Goals of the Network:

  • To provide a forum for citizen monitoring groups
  • To provide guidance, training, equipment and support to monitoring groups
  • To increase the amount and quality of citizen monitoring data
  • To increase public and agency use of, and access to, citizen monitoring data
  • To establish communications between citizen monitors and government agencies so that the information that is collected is useful.

Site information and data collected by the Network and its partners can be found on the Water Quality Viewer on the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN).

Network Events

The Network coordinates three regional monitoring events: Snapshot Day in the spring, Urban Watch during the summer months, and First Flush in the fall.

Snapshot Day

On the first Saturday in May, volunteers from San Mateo County to San Luis Obispo County participate in the annual Snapshot Day Event. This sanctuary-wide event provides a one-day "snapshot" of the health of the rivers and streams that flow into Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Trained volunteers take field measurements of temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, transparency or turbidity, and conductivity, while water samples are collected for laboratory analysis of nutrients and bacteria levels. The volunteers collecting this valuable information play a key role in our community as stewards of our watersheds. Resource agencies, local governments and community groups to protect and improve the health of our local streams use the information they collect. Ready to volunteer this coming Snapshot Day?

First Flush

First Flush is an annual storm water monitoring event during the first significant rainstorm of the season. First Flush results characterize the winter season's first storm water runoff that is flowing into Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and identifies where urban pollutant concentrations are highest. Teams of volunteers collect lab samples for analysis of nutrients, metals, bacteria and sediments. Field measurements are also collected for temperature, pH, conductivity, and transparency. Why aren't you a First Flush volunteer?

Local cities have used First Flush data to address pollutant concentrations by cleaning out storm drains prior to the first rains, installing dry weather diversion and CDS units (littler/ debris removal systems) as well as identifying opportunities to slow down runoff through vegetation and permeable surfaces.

Urban Watch

Urban runoff is one of the leading sources of pollution into coastal waters. The Urban Watch Water Quality Monitoring Program is a collaborative effort between the Cities of Monterey, Pacific Grove, Capitola, the Coastal Watershed Council, and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Since 1998, the Urban Watch monitoring program has provided a way for local residents and community members to become involved in learning more about water quality, urban pollution issues and to assist in the collection and testing of urban runoff.

Urban Watch volunteers collect water samples and conduct basic field analysis using an EPA approved LaMotte Storm Drain Pollution Detection Kit to detect detergents and chlorine, and a Hach photometer for ammonia and orthophosphate. The Urban Watch program has helped identify and implement targeted projects and educational programs aimed at addressing urban pollutants entering Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Such projects include a dry weather diversion system for storm drain flows in Pacific Grove, and outreach to local restaurants in Monterey, and outreach to auto shops in Santa Cruz and Monterey.

To learn more please check out these links:


Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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