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SWAMP - Clean Water Team (CWT) – Citizen Monitoring

Connecting People, Communities, Science, and Watersheds

The Clean Water Team (CWT) is the citizen monitoring program of the State Water Resources Control Board. The CWT is a part of the Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP). The CWT Citizen Monitoring Coordinator(s) work statewide to provide technical assistance and guidance documents, training, QA/QC support, temporary loans of equipment and communication to citizen monitoring programs and watershed stewardship organizations.

Our Mission… To build and support the State’s Watersheds’ Stewardship through citizen monitoring and community science in order to reduce and prevent water pollution.

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  Citizen Monitoring & Community Science

Citizen monitoring is any water quality monitoring activity that typically relies in whole or in part on participation by volunteers, students, or non-paid staff.  Sometimes these activities are community based science projects which are participant (individuals) and community created science projects where individuals and community members become involved, collect samples, take measurements, conduct tests, and/or do other program tasks. A variety of organizations may be involved in citizen monitoring projects, including but not limited to non-profit groups, Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs), Coordinated Resource Management and Planning (CRMP) groups, local government agencies, and colleges.

  We All Can Do Science for Our Watersheds & Communities

People, watersheds, and science provide the base for improving and protecting the waters we rely on and enjoy. Citizen monitoring and community science projects throughout California have been collecting water quality and watershed assessment data for over 20 years. Learn about a few of these programs by watching videos in this playlist. Take it further by volunteering or starting your own Clean Water Team program.

Mission and Values: Helping California’s Citizens Monitor Our Surface Waters

  General Information on Citizen Monitoring

Citizen monitoring is monitoring of the environment by community members, usually as volunteers, interested in watershed protection. Citizen monitoring activities include collecting water quality data, evaluating fish habitat, counting birds, or making visual observations of stream health. Community and resource managers use monitoring information to better protect California's waters.

Community based science are participant and community created science projects. The individuals and community members involved, collect samples, take measurements, conduct tests, and/or do other program tasks.

Community-based participatory research is a collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the strengths that each brings. Community-based participatory research begins with a research topic of importance to the community with the aim of combining knowledge and action for social change.

By monitoring your local creek, river, or stretch of beach, you learn about its health, and the plants and animals it supports. You can help pinpoint pollution sources or identify widespread problems. You can provide the background information needed to develop restoration projects or pollution prevention measures. Your data could even evaluate the success or failure of those projects. Your actions can be instrumental to protecting or improving the waters in your community.

Water is a precious resource. California has over 200,000 miles of streams, home to wildlife, and a place for us to play and fish. Knowing the health of these streams is critical to protecting them. Choosing to join other members of your community to monitor your local stream helps ensure its protection.

Findings on Citizen Monitoring Contributions Towards the Monitoring of California Waters and Beneficial Uses – California’s citizen monitors are contributing thousands of hours and millions of dollars’ worth of science towards the stewardship of California’s watersheds.

Contributions of citizen monitoring groups to the state’s water quality monitoring programs.

2017 Citizen Monitoring Webinar Series Learn about the diversity of California’s citizen science and community science successes.

The State Water Resources Control Board and many of the Regional Water Quality Control Boards, located throughout California, are actively involved in citizen monitoring. We have developed specific monitoring techniques and identified important ways to ensure your techniques are valid. We also will be able to teach you these monitoring techniques. We will certainly try to hook you up with other interested volunteers and local technical experts.

Volunteers come from all walks of life. No specific skills are required, all you need is a desire to protect your watershed and a willingness to learn and perform simple monitoring techniques. Monitoring is a great activity for school children, youth groups, landowners, and community organizations. You or your business can support citizen monitoring by contributing:

  • Your time and enthusiasm;
  • Your knowledge of birds, bugs, or fish;
  • Funding or;
  • In-kind technical services, such as laboratory analyses, computer skills, taxonomic identification.

You can make a difference. The Water Boards are interested in hearing from you. Citizen's Guide to Working with the California Water Boards contains many references to websites as well as weblinks to many sites. The Boards recognize that not all Californians have access to the internet. Thus, any member of the public may contact the Water Boards by telephone or US Mail to communicate concerns, ask questions, request information, or inquire about public participation opportunities.

  • Navigate to our Clean Water Team "California Monitoring Groups map."
    Locate the program in your neighborhood and volunteer!
  • Start your own water quality monitoring program using Clean Water Team training and guidance documents found throughout this Website.

  Contact the Clean Water Team coordinator to learn more.

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  Visit the CalEPA Complaint System to report unauthorized diversions, such as violations of water right permits or diversions impacting fisheries.

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  Visit Californians Turn in Poachers and Polluters (CalTIP)

CalTIP is a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide the California Department of Fish and Wildlife with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. If you would like to report a violation in progress or a report an ongoing violation please call the CalTIP line: 1 888 DFG-CALTIP (888 334-2258), 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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  Visit the California Office of Emergency Services State Warning Center

To report all significant releases or threatened releases of hazardous materials:

  • To report all significant releases or threatened releases of hazardous materials: First dial 9-1-1 or your local emergency response agency
  • To report all significant releases or threatened releases of hazardous materials First dial 9-1-1 or your local emergency response agency, and then call the California Office of Emergency Services State Warning Center (800) 852-7550 or (916) 845-8911.