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Water Quality Protection Program Overview

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) encompasses a shoreline length of 276 miles from Marin County in the north to San Luis Obispo County in the south and 6,094 square statute miles (4,601 nmi2) of ocean. This proximity to the coastline makes the Sanctuary vulnerable to pollution problems from approximately 7,000 square miles within watershed areas that drain to it, including contaminants such as sediments, nutrients, fecal bacteria, pesticides, oil, grease, metals, and detergents.

Recognizing that water quality is key to ensuring protection for all Sanctuary resources, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed in 1992 and updated in 2006 by eight federal, state and local agencies agreeing to work together to develop a Water Quality Protection Program (WQPP) for the Sanctuary. Today the WQPP Committee is dedicated to protecting and enhancing water quality in the Sanctuary and its watersheds. Using a collaborative approach involving key stakeholders in each issue, detailed plans have been completed:

Agriculture and Rural Land

Action Plan IV: Explore a variety of ways in which the Sanctuary works with the agriculture industry to improve water quality.
Agriculture and Rural Land

Beach Closure and Microbial Contamination Beach Closure and Microbial Contamination

The Sanctuary is working to improve water quality that impacts visitors and residents alike through rain advisories, beach postings and beach closures.

Citizen Watershed Monitoring Network

A consortium of monitoring groups that monitor the health of the watersheds flowing into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Management Plan Documents image

Marinas and BoatingMarinas and Boating

Action Plan III: Bilge pumpout stations, education brochures and collaborative partnerships all aid in improving water quality in and around the Sanctuary.


Regional MonitoringRegional Monitoring

Action Plan II: Building upon existing federal, state and local monitoring activities within the Sanctuary and its watersheds, the Regional Montioring Program seeks to provide comprehensive information regarding existing water quality conditions, long-term trends, and the success of pollution management efforts.

Urban Runoff

Action Plan I: Learn what the sanctuary is doing to detect and eliminate non-point source pollution.
Urban Runoff

Wetlands and Riparian Corridors

Action Plan V: Aimed at increasing knowledge of central coast wetlands including research, monitoring, inventory and restoration.

Protecting Water Quality in Wetlands and Riparian Corridors

Partners & Links


MBNMS General Calendar

See all events, including those relating to water quality

Public outreach and education is a key factor in the success of the WQPP. Various water quality education materials and programs have been developed, including posters, brochures, watershed models and displays.

Reviewed: September 08, 2023
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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