Students from Lincoln Middle School and the Santa Monica Alternative School House had the opportunity to participate in an ocean water quality testing workshop hosted by Santa Monica High School (SAMOHI) students on February 20.
The program is part of the Surfrider’s Teach and Test Mentorship Program which emphasizes hands-on research as well as what each individual can do to help keep our local beaches and ocean waters clean. The workshop’s research portion included having each middle school participant learn how to collect and test ocean water samples from three Santa Monica sites. The students then learned how to protect our beaches and oceans from pollution by playing a “Jeopardy” game developed by the high school students.
Water quality was tested at the three sites the day after it rained for the average levels of the Enterococci bacteria. They were the Santa Monica Pier, Bay Street in front of the Pico-Kenter Storm Drain, and at the mouth of the Pico-Kenter Storm Drain. The high school students test these sites on a weekly basis. The middle school students found that two ocean sites, Santa Monica Pier and Bay Street, had good water quality but the bacteria levels by the mouth of the Pico-Kenter Storm Drain exceeded the safe levels for people to swim in set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
West Los Angeles Malibu Chapter’s Surfrider Foundation Education Chair, Lindsey Jurca, told the Mirror the students did the same testing that the County of Los Angeles does to check for unhealthful swimming conditions at the county’s beaches. The testing program and equipment was established at SAMOHI in 2008 with grant funding from the California Coastal Commission, the Surfrider Foundation, and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
The teach and test program at SAMOHI is unique nationally according to Jurca because “they have their own lab.” Eventually, her organization wants to expand the program to other high schools in West Los Angeles.
Jurca also mentioned that ten Santa Monica businesses have recently agreed to post the students’ weekly testing results. They are local surf and coffee shops.
The Mirror also spoke with the SAMOHI’s Teach and Test Advisor, Benjamin Kay. He pointed out that the mentoring program is part of their goal of “increasing the program’s community outreach.”
SAMOHI’s Heal the Bay Surfrider Club Co-President Zack Gold stated that his club would like to have more mentoring workshops in the future because it was a “great learning experience for everyone.” He also wants to give presentations at different schools in order to disperse information about what’s happening to our oceans.
Mirror Contributing Writerhannah@smmirror.com