Surface Water Monitoring

Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP)


The Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program, or SWAMP, is a statewide monitoring effort designed to assess the conditions of surface waters throughout the state of California. The program is administered by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and the responsibility for implementation of monitoring activities resides with the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards that have jurisdiction over their specific geographical areas of the state.

The SWAMP mission is to provide resource managers, decision makers, and the public with timely, high-quality information to evaluate the condition of all waters throughout California. SWAMP accomplishes this through carefully designed, externally reviewed monitoring programs, and by assisting other entities state-wide in the generation of comparable data that can be brought together in integrated assessments that provide answers to current management questions.

To accomplish this mission, SWAMP has identified the pieces necessary to successfully and sustainably meet the goals identified in our mission. We have created a Quality Assurance (QA) program, developed a standardized data storage system, created Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for sampling, have peer reviewed monitoring plans for each project, and continue to create a water quality indicator list to work from.

Reports and Resources

State-wide SWAMP webpage at:

North Coast Regional Water Board reports, documents, and fact sheets can be found at the following webpage:

Contact Information

If you have questions about the North Coast Region's SWAMP activities, please contact:

Sonoma County Wildfires Response Monitoring


Surface waters within and downstream of areas affected by the recent wildfires in Sonoma County include impaired waterbodies, endangered species habitat, and the source water for drinking water systems. During storm events, surface waters may be affected by pollutants in runoff from burn areas. In coordination with Regional Water Board staff, watershed partners have been working to implement post-fire best management practices (BMPs) within areas that were burned in an effort to prevent pollutant laden stormwater from entering storm drains and reaching surface waters.

Monitoring is being conducted by Regional Water Board staff focusing on characterizing water quality above and below the urban areas that were destroyed by the fire and evaluating the effectiveness of BMPs in removing pollutants.

Reports and Resources

Cyanobacteria Harmful Algal Blooms


Algae and cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue green algae, are natural components of healthy marine and fresh water ecosystems. Under certain water quality conditions algae and cyanobacteria can rapidly multiply causing nuisance "blooms." A small number of cyanobacteria species are capable of producing toxins that can be harmful to animals and humans; however not all blooms include these toxin producing cyanobacteria.

Cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms (cyanoHABs) are of special concern because of their potential impacts on drinking water, recreation in lakes and rivers, and effects on fish and wildlife.

In recent years, there has been an increased frequency and severity of cyanoHABs around the world, including the North Coast Region. The Regional Water Board has received reports of freshwater nuisance blooms and algal scums, animal illnesses, and on occasion, human health impacts within the North Coast.

The risk factors that contribute to freshwater cyanoHABs and nuisance blooms include nutrient (phosphorus and nitrogen) enriched waters, warming climate, and lower flows.  The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) is working to reduce risk factors through its water quality improvement programs.

There is a current need to manage freshwater cyanoHAB blooms through improved monitoring, assessment, and increased educational outreach. Regional Water Board staff are collaborating with county public and environmental health officials and other federal, state, county, and non-governmental organizations to address these needs.


CA CyanoHAB Network:

USEPA CyanoHAB Webpage:

Contact Information

If you wish to report a cyanoHAB event in the North Coast Region or would like additional information about the North Coast Region's cyanoHAB program please contact:

North Coast Water Board Public Workshop on Freshwater CyanoHABs

On February 24, 2016 Regional Water Board staff hosted a public workshop to discuss monitoring, assessment and response strategies for freshwater cyanoHABs, and provide information on the prevalence and effects of cyanoHABs. The agenda for the workshop and all presentations are available at the links below.

Notes from the North Coast Freshwater CyanoHAB Workgroup meeting held on February 25, 2016 are available at the link below. The purpose of the workgroup meeting was to begin the building of partnerships among those in the North Coast Region who have a role to play in CyanoHAB monitoring and response.

Join the Surface Water Monitoring E-mail Subscription List

If you would like to receive e-mail notifications pertaining to Surface Water Monitoring in the North Coast Region please visit our e-mail subscriptions page, fill in your name and e-mail address, and check the box titled "Surface Water Monitoring". This will ensure that you receive all future e-mail notifications put out by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.