Surface Water Monitoring

Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP)

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.

For additional information about the SWAMP program please visit the state-wide SWAMP webpage at:

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

NORTH COAST ALGAE AND NUTRIENTS STUDY 2010-2011, South Fork River and Russian River – August 2021

Cyanobacteria Harmful Algal Blooms

Algae and cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue green algae, are natural components of healthy marine and freshwater 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.


The California Cyanobacteria and Harmful Algal Bloom (CCHAB) Network is a workgroup of   California Water Quality Monitoring Council.  The mission of the CCHAB network is to work towards the development and maintenance of a comprehensive, coordinated program to identify and address the causes and impacts of cyanobacteria and harmful algal blooms (HABs) in California.

To meet the mission, the CCHAB network developed the California Harmful Algal Blooms Portal to provide an informational resource for the public and to function as a tool to support coordination with statewide partners to address HABs.  Accessing the portal webpage provides the public and response organizations with a central location to access resources and tools to aid in identifying, reporting, and responding to HABs.

A few of these resources include;

To Report a Bloom please visit the following webpage:

To view a current map of HAB Incidents please visit the following webpage:

To obtain California Freshwater Harmful Algal Bloom Field Guides and Standard Operating Procedures please visit:

Information and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) documents:

Healthy Water Habits:
HAB signage:
Human Health Impacts:
Drinking Water Resources:

Additional information and resources can be found at the California Harmful Algal Blooms Portal

Reports and Documents

A Deeper Look at HABs

In early 2019, the Regional Board collaborated with cyanobacteria researchers from the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to produce an article that was included in the Summer 2019 LakeLine magazine published in early September by the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS). The focus of the article was to introduce those who manage aquatic systems to the risks associated with benthic cyanobacteria and highlight the current shortcomings regarding available guidance and criteria for dealing with benthic Cyanobacteria Harmful Algal Blooms (CyanoHABs).

To Report a Bloom Please visit the  following webpage:

Additional information and resources can be found at the California Harmful Algal Blooms Portal

Sonoma County Wildfires Response Monitoring

Surface waters within and downstream of areas affected by the 2017 and 2019 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. Regional Water Board staff and watershed partners have conducted monitoring to determine the status of water quality during storm events in the areas affected by the fires.  Monitoring conducted by Regional Water Board staff focused on characterizing water quality above and below the areas that were destroyed by the fire.
Reports and Resources

Contact Information

If you have questions about SWAMP, surface water monitoring, or cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms please contact:

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.