Local Campaigns

Water Quality Testing

85617161The Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) is the Surfrider Foundation’s volunteer-run, water testing, education and advocacy program. BWTF water testing programs measure bacteria levels at beaches and compare them to federal water quality standards established by the EPA to protect public health in recreational waters. The program is used to alert citizens and officials in their communities about water quality problems and to work toward solutions. The BWTF has demonstrated success by identifying problems with coastal water pollution, raising public awareness of these incidents, filling in the data gaps of state and local government water quality monitoring programs, working collaboratively with local stakeholders to find and implement pollution solutions, and improving the public’s knowledge of the safety of their beach water.

The Virginia Beach chapter is preparing to initiate our BWTF water quality testing program in early 2014. The City of Virginia Beach does water quality testing during the summer months, but not during the winter months, and we would like to help fill in the data gaps. We are going to start our pilot program by sampling three different beaches every two weeks. We are also communicating with the city’s Clean Water Task Force. If you are interested in volunteering for this program and help gather water samples, please email our Vice Chair, Rob, at vicechair@vb.surfrider.org.

Beach Access Preservation

WP_000809Public beach access is a universal right. Beach access is the ability to reach the sand and surf. It is the means of entry to our oceans, waves, and beaches. Surfrider Foundation promotes the right of low-impact, free, and open access to the world’s waves and beaches for all people. We recognize that the public’s right of access to waterways is often based on the Public Trust Doctrine, and is further reflected in international, regional, and state laws and Constitutions. The right of beach access is constantly being challenged by private property owners, developers, and even sea level rise. Surfrider Foundation is actively fighting for beach access in places where private property owners have cut off long-standing publicly used coastal access. In 2009, the Surfrider Foundation developed a Policy on Beach Access, which addresses our stance on the many aspects of the issue of beach access.

The Virginia Beach chapter is currently working with the Sandbridge Civic League and City of Virginia Beach to preserve and increase parking availability in Sandbridge near some of the popular surf access spots in the area. We will also be expanding this campaign to other areas of Virginia Beach where surfers and beachgoers have limited or restricted access to the beach. If you are interested in becoming involved in this campaign, please email our Secretary, Shannon, at secretary@vb.surfrider.org.

Smoke-Free Beach

cigarettes2Cigarette butts are one of the most common and most disgusting forms of litter found on our beaches. Cigarette butts are typically made from cellulose acetate, a synthetic fiber type of plastic, which takes years to break down. In addition to being an eyesore, there is a push to classify cigarette butts as toxic waste because what’s left behind in the filter can leach out if submerged in water and impact marine life.

The Virginia Beach chapter is currently working with some passionate local residents in the Chic’s Beach area to initiate our campaign on banning smoking at our beaches. Our first hurdle will be to convince the State Legislature to allow individual cities to enact and enforce such a law. In the meantime, we are assembling data by collecting and counting all of the cigarette butts (among other trash) that we gather during our monthly beach cleanups. We will use this evidence to raise awareness and educate the public about the realities of cigarette litter on our beaches. If you are interested in becoming involved in this campaign, please email our Treasurer, Jessica, at treasurer@vb.surfrider.org.

Rise Above Plastics

Untitled-1Plastic is all around us. It can be found in food packaging, hygiene products, toys, vehicles, and many other things. While plastics have revolutionized manufacturing and are put to good use in safety products and other applications, they pose a significant threat to our planet. The problem with plastics is that they do not biodegrade. Instead, they photo-degrade from the sun’s ultraviolet rays breaking them down into smaller pieces. So virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form. Most plastic pollution at sea starts out on land as litter on beaches, streets and sidewalks. Rain flushes that litter through a storm drain or waterway that leads to the ocean. After plastics enter the marine environment they are often mistaken by marine life for food, sometimes with fatal results.

The mission of the Virginia Beach chapter’s Rise Above Plastics (RAP) campaign is to reduce the impacts of plastics in the marine environment surrounding Hampton Roads by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics. Below are 10 easy things you can do to reduce your plastic footprint:

  1. Purchase reusable cloth shopping bags so you don’t need “paper or plastic.”
  2. Instead of bottled water, carry a Nalgene or stainless steel water bottle.
  3. Refuse straws, single-serve packaging, and other disposable plastics.
  4. Bring a reusable lunch bag or cooler to work.
  5. Bring your to-go mug with you to the coffee shop or gas station.
  6. Go digital! Buy your music and videos online.
  7. Recycle plastics, especially #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE) plastics.
  8. Volunteer at one of our monthly beach cleanups!
  9. Support plastic bag bans or fees, polystyrene foam bans, and recycling bills.
  10. Talk to your family and friends about why it’s important to Rise Above Plastics!

If you are interested in becoming involved in this campaign, please email our our RAP coordinators, Jessica and Christina, at rapcoordinator@vb.surfrider.org.