A trip to the beach shouldn’t make you sick. We've got four ways you can help keep ocean water clean and swimmable for now and for years to come.

By Lauren Phillips
April 19, 2017

Every year, more than 20,000 swim advisories and beach closures are issued across the United States to protect the health of beachgoers from toxins in the water—and many more may go undiscovered or unannounced, further threatening public health. Marine life and the people who rely on these sea creatures for their livelihoods also suffer when water quality is dangerously poor.

Toxins in public water can cause the stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, and more. Luckily, there are ways you can help keep our oceans clean, whether you live by the coast or inland (the water you use flows downstream), thanks to efforts like The Surfrider Foundation's Clean Water Initiative, a multi-tiered approach to reducing ocean pollution.

Surfrider’s Clean Water Initiative encourages and supports volunteers to test water quality in their communities, raises public awareness of the hefty costs of ocean pollution, and introduces practical solutions to protect local water supplies and keep pollution out of the ocean. Surfrider also endorses a comprehensive, integrated water management system that reconfigures how local and regional governments manage their communities’ water use.

RELATED: Learn More about the Surfrider Foundation

Surfrider’s clean water programs already keep hundreds of millions of gallons of polluted water out of oceans and waterways every day, but more needs to be done.

Here Are Four Ways You Can Help:

1. Follow tried-and-true tips to reduce your water use and water waste. Currently, the United States uses water four times faster than it can be replaced. The more water we use in our homes and at work, the more waste water we have to treat. By using less water, we put less of a strain on our waste treatment systems and preserve clean water for future use. You can reduce your water usage by turning off the sink while you brush your teeth, installing lowflow shower heads, and using rain barrels to collect rainwater for later use. Get lots more tips from the Surfrider Foundation.

2. Plant an ocean-friendly garden. Stormwater and urban runoff are the number #1 cause of beach closures and swim advisories in coastal communities. You can curb your contribution by following tips from Surfrider's Ocean Friendly Garden program, which promotes landscaping and gardening practices that reduce water usage and waste and maximize water retention, thus reducing runoff.

3. Join a Blue Water Task Force in your area to help test local water quality, educate your community on environmentally friendly water usage habits, and advocate for efforts to protect our oceans.

4. Support the Surfrider Foundation’s efforts by becoming a member, donating to the cause, or reaching out to your representatives in government to request that they support efforts to protect our oceans from pollutants.

Watch this video for more information on what needs to be fixed in our water system, and what you can do:

All photos and videos courtesy of the Surfrider Foundation