My Water Quality - Get Involved

Get Involved



Volunteer with a Water Quality Monitoring Program

Get involved by volunteering to monitor water quality. You can join an organization supporting science-based watershed protection. California has over 200,000 miles of streams, 1,000 miles of beaches, and about 3,000 named lakes. These are home to wildlife, and a place for us to play and relax. Knowing the health of these waters is critical to protecting them. Citizen monitoring and community science activities include collecting water quality data, evaluating fish habitat, counting birds, or making visual observations of stream health. Community and resource managers use this monitoring information to better protect California's waters. Choosing to join other members of your community to monitor your local beach, stream, or lake helps ensure its protection.

Start your own water quality monitoring program using Clean Water Team training and guidance documents found throughout this Website.

MBNMS Volunteer Opportunities: Snapshot Day

On the first Saturday in May, volunteers from San Mateo County to San Luis Obispo County participate in the annual “Snapshot Day" Event. Trained volunteers participate in this Sanctuary-wide volunteer water quality monitoring event designed to increase information and public awareness about water quality issues affecting watersheds that drain to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). This community event provides a one-day "snapshot" of the health of the rivers and streams that flow into the MBNMS. Temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, and conductivity are measured in the field and water samples are collected for laboratory analysis of nutrients and bacteria levels. The volunteers collecting this valuable information play a key role in our community as stewards of our watersheds. The information they provide is used by resource agencies, local governments, and community groups to protect and improve the health of our local streams through the 303(d) list among other resources.

Participate in California Coastal Cleanup Day

Join the largest one-day volunteer event in the country, taking place throughout the entire state on the third Saturday in September. Held annually the third Saturday in September, at more than 1,000 sites across California Coastal Cleanup Day is the state’s largest volunteer program. It supports the environment, engages tens of thousands of people annually (74,410 volunteers on September 21, 2019) and has removed over 25 million pounds of trash from our beaches, shorelines, and inland waterways for over 35 years.


When a group "adopts" a beach, they commit to cleaning it at least three times per year, although school groups can fulfill their obligation with a single cleanup. Groups are encouraged to re-adopt at the end of the year. The Adopt-A-Beach® program fosters feelings of pride and ownership as volunteers begin to care for "their" beach, helping to tackle the urgent problem of marine debris head-on.

State Park Beach Clean Ups

California Department of Parks and Recreation has many different opportunities for people and groups looking to give back to our beach. Whether you are looking for a long-term commitment or a one-day event.

Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MDMAP)
Partner organizations and volunteers conduct shoreline monitoring according to the published NOAA Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project survey techniques. Survey data that is uploaded to the MDMAP database contributes to our understanding of the distribution, types, and abundance of debris in the marine environment, in order to guide policy development, education and outreach, and research initiatives.

MPA Watch

MPA Watch is a community science program that trains volunteers to observe and collect data on human uses of coastal and marine resources both inside and outside of marine protected areas (MPAs). Volunteers use standardized protocols to collect relevant, scientifically rigorous, and broadly accessible data. Data are meant to inform the management, enforcement, and science of California’s marine protected areas, and allow our network of programs and organizations to track how the public uses coastal areas. By involving local communities in data collection, MPA Watch programs inspire and empower stewardship, and educate the public about California’s ocean ecosystems.

Volunteer for OSPR

The best way to help with the rehabilitation of oiled animals is to get involved with an OWCN Member Organization before a spill occurs. By volunteering with one of OWCN’s member organizations you will gain valuable experience and be eligible for the OWCN's specialized training in caring for oiled animals. For more information go to the link opens in new window Oiled Wildlife Care Network site or contact

The CDFW Natural Resource Volunteers support oil spill response efforts and helps protect California's fish and wildlife resources. For more information go to the CDFW Natural Resource Volunteer Program site.

California Volunteers’ California Climate Action Corps Fellowship Program

California Volunteers’ California Climate Action Corps Fellowship program leverages the power of AmeriCorps to advance climate actions that engage community members, cultivate change, and leave a lasting impact. The program connects organizations and agencies with talented, motivated emerging leaders to move the needle on climate change in the community. If you want to make a difference, build a career in the climate field, and join a network of leaders, we want to hear from you!


Save The Waves App
Empowering surfers, beachgoers and ocean lovers to report and track coastal threats in real-time.

California King Tides Project
The California King Tides Project helps us visualize future sea level by observing the highest tides of today. You can help by taking and sharing photos of the shoreline during King Tides to create a record of changes to our coast and estuaries.

COASST (Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team)
COASST is a network of citizen scientists that monitor marine resources and ecosystem health at over 450 beaches across northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.

CoastSnap is a low-cost community beach monitoring technology that turns phones into powerful coastal monitoring devices. At any given time of any given day, somebody somewhere is taking a photo with their phone of a beach and uploading it to the internet. The aim of CoastSnap is to harness this incredible amount of information into something that can be used by coastal communities to understand how coastlines change through time – whether it be due to rising sea levels, extreme storms or other factors. Ultimately, this information can be used to improve the way your coastline is managed into the future.

iNaturalist is a place where you can record what you see in nature, meet other nature lovers, and learn about the natural world. It is also a crowdsourced species identification system and an organism occurrence recording tool. You can use it to record your own observations, get help with identifications, collaborate with others to collect this kind of information for a common purpose, or access the observational data collected by iNaturalist users.


Science Near Me, a new and easy way to find opportunities to do and learn science, recently launched and can provide new opportunities to elevate your c*science projects. This innovative resource is being developed in partnership by SciStarter, Association of Science and Technology Centers, and many others (details in an article here) to unite all types of opportunities for the public to engage in science, and, in the process, provide unprecedented data for researchers to better understand patterns of engagement and learning outcomes, in addition to identifying gaps, particularly regarding who is not involved.

The Citizen Science Association (CSA) is a member-driven organization that connects people from a wide range of experiences around one shared purpose: advancing knowledge through research and monitoring done by, for, and with members of the public.


(Updated 02/22/2022)