4.1C – Marina Siting and Design – Water Quality Assessment

Management Measure

  1. Assess water quality as a part of the siting and design of new and expanding marinas to establish baseline water quality conditions or trends.
  2. Assess water quality at existing marinas to establish baseline water quality conditions.

Management Practices

  • Conduct water quality assessments through a water quality monitoring program that includes pre-development, construction, and post-development phases to assess the water quality impacts of a marina. Effective assessments can also be accomplished through numerical modeling that includes pre-development and post-construction model applications.
  • Prior to construction, the current water quality conditions should be assessed. Acceptable water quality data may already have been collected by the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, State and local agencies or local universities. If new data are required, there are a few ways to collect information when resources are limited:
    • Visual inspections of water quality might suffice. Keeping an eye out for oil sheens, trash, and sediment buildup on aquatic plants can be a simple way to track water quality.
    • Use rapid bioassessment techniques to monitor water quality. Aquatic insects and grasses can be surveyed quickly and give a good visual idea of how clean the water is.
    • Establish a volunteer monitoring program. Enlist the help and environmental enthusiasm of slip renters and their kids. Its good for the marina and the volunteers learn a lot!
    • Model water dynamics in a marina basin to augment short-term monitoring data. It is important to keep in mind that all modeling applications require some field data for calibration, and a cost-effective approach would be a combination of both water quality monitoring and numerical modeling. These models can be used to investigate alternative designs and their predicted impact on water quality.


  • California Coastal Commission, Marine Life Inventory, is a program for high school students and teachers to participate in ocean sampling while monitoring water quality (Telephone: 949-640-9956).
  • City of Santa Barbara Clean Water Program conducts storm water sampling, and ocean and creek monitoring, and supplies information on opportunities for citizen involvement.
  • Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo is implementing a volunteer water quality monitoring program in the county (Telephone: 805-544-9096).
  • Los Angeles County Ocean Water Monitoring Program provides Web-based beach and rain advisories for Los Angeles County.
  • Monterey Bay Sanctuary Citizen Watershed Monitoring Network is a network of citizens who comprehensively monitor the health of the sanctuary.
  • Morro Bay Volunteer Monitoring Program provides citizen monitoring opportunities in Morro Bay estuary waters.
  • Orange County CoastKeeper Citizen Water Monitoring Program organizes local citizens for volunteer monitoring of county streams and rivers.
  • SFEIs Coastal Water Quality Monitoring Inventory is a database with information on California’s Coastal Water Quality Monitoring Programs. Major water quality monitoring programs along the California coast and its bays are listed, along with details such as the water quality measurements made, locations, frequency, quality assurance information, and contact information.
  • Southern California Marine Institute’s Environmental Monitoring Program educates students in grades 5–12 on marine environmental issues and water quality monitoring in southern California. The goal of the program is to educate young people about natural resources and to allow them to become directly involved in monitoring their environment.
  • SWRCBs Clean Water Team Citizen Monitoring Program as part of California’s NPS Program.

General Resources

Water Quality Monitoring
  • USEPA, Microbial Source Tracking Guide serves as a reference guide to those considering microbial source tracking (MST) tools for water quality evaluations and TMDL-related activities. Insight into various tools and approaches used to track sources of fecal contamination impacting water quality is provided. Also provided are descriptions of research and several case studies gathered through workshops, literature searches, and phone interviews.
  • USEPA, Monitoring and Assessing Water Quality is a repository of technical guidance and information on various water quality assessment techniques. Guidance documents on biological assessment and volunteer monitoring are included.
Watershed Planning
  • California Coastal Commission, California’s Critical Coastal Areas (CCA) Program encourages collaboration among local stakeholders and government agencies to better identify coastal-zone watershed areas in critical need of protection from polluted runoff.


USEPA. 1993. Guidance Specifying Management Measures for Sources of Nonpoint Pollution in Coastal Waters. EPA 840-B-92-002. Downloaded on March 16, 2008.

USEPA. 2001. National Management Measures Guidance to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Marinas and Recreational Boating. EPA 841-B-01-005. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC. Downloaded on March 16, 2008

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