© 2008 Cynthia Cudaback
Huntington Beach, California, is a popular surfing beach near Los Angeles. In July, 1999, the State of California instituted new beach cleanliness standards, that beaches should be closed when bacterial concentrations exceeded a certain amount. The beach promptly closed for two months. As the bacteria that cause trouble are found in feces, local environmentalists blamed a nearby sewage outfall. The Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD), that operates the sewage plant, funded a $5 million study to determine whether the stuff could hit the shore.
How would you figure out whether the outfall was to blame, and what would you do about it?
First print out this overview with study questions,
and this plot of bacterial concentrations in the water at Huntington Beach.
|1. Geography||Where is Huntington Beach?||Reading a Map|
|2. CA State Policy||Is the beach clean enough for swimming?||CA state AB411 Standards|
|3. Science||How is beach water quality measured?||Measuring Bacteria|
|4. Federal Policy||How is sewage treated?||US Sewage Treatment Standards|
|5. History||What factors have affected beach cleanliness in the past?||Timeline|
|6. Science||How clean was Huntington Beach in summer of 2000?||Observed Bacterial Concentrations|
|7. Science||Could bacteria travel from the sewage outfall to the beach?||Bacteria in Cold Water|
|8. Decisions||Should the sewage treatment plant be upgraded?||You decide|
|9. Science||Is there more to the story?||Follow-up Studies|
|10. Calculation||Can I let my dog poop on the beach?||Not if you want to swim there|
|11. Regulation||How clean are the beaches in my home state?||State Regulations|
|Brown Pelican||Surf's Up||Pier at Sunset|