The Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, or SCCWRP, is a leading U.S. environmental research institute that works to develop a scientific foundation for informed water-quality management in Southern California and beyond. Since its founding as a public agency in 1969, SCCWRP has been a champion of sound interdisciplinary approaches to solving complex challenges in water management. SCCWRP’s staff of more than 40 researchers – more than half of whom hold Ph.D.s – investigates not only how to more effectively monitor and protect Southern California’s ocean and coastal watersheds, but also how to bridge the gap between water-quality research and the management community that relies on this science. Through a 14-member governing board – known as the SCCWRP Commission and made up of wastewater dischargers, stormwater agencies and water-quality regulators from across Southern California – SCCWRP builds consensus and develops real-world management solutions, paving the way for collaborators and stakeholders to coalesce around shared, long-range research goals.

For more information about SCCWRP research, go to the Research Areas section. 

For more information about SCCWRP’s history, go to the SCCWRP History section.

For more information about SCCWRP staff, go to the SCCWRP Staff section. 

Mission Statement

To enhance the scientific foundation for management of Southern California’s ocean and coastal watersheds.

Sediment core sampling in Newport Bay


(left to right) Benthic invertebrate sampling for stream bioassessments; laboratory team work; ocean sampling for microbial testing; field microscopy with a cell phone

Vision Statement

SCCWRP’s effective transfer of science to member agencies and other stakeholders leads to implementation of appropriate, viable management strategies that protect the ocean and coastal watersheds for this and future generations.

Goals and Strategies

Goal 1 (What work SCCWRP should do)
Undertake and participate in scientific investigations to understand ecological systems in the coastal waters and associated watersheds, in order to document relationships between these systems and human activities relevant to SCCWRP member agencies.

  1. Focus research activities in southern California coastal waters and associated watersheds on answering the questions: (1) Is it safe to swim? (2) Is it safe to eat the fish? (3) Is the ecosystem healthy? (4) Are the natural resources being protected?
  2. Develop an independent research agenda in collaboration with the SCCWRP Commission's Technical Advisory Group (CTAG).

Goal 2 (SCCWRP should do the work well)
Serve as a respected source of unbiased coastal water quality science.

    1. Offer a salary, promotion and bonus structure that rewards scientific excellence.
    2. Stimulate our scientists to be industry leaders, by encouraging activities such as participation on review panels and editorial boards.
    3. Promote a balanced funding structure and maintain financial independence.
    4. Conduct SCCWRP activities transparently.

Goal 3 (SCCWRP should build consensus)
Develop scientific consensus on issues relevant to management decisions and application of science by member agencies.

  1. Conduct the majority of projects in collaboration with other research institutions and stakeholders.
  2. Effectively communicate SCCWRP’s research activities to member agencies and other stakeholders.
  3. Establish SCCWRP as a regional meeting center.
  4. Hire, train, and reward scientists as good communicators and collaborators who facilitate consensus building.

Goal 4 (SCCWRP’s work should be put to use)
Stimulate conversion of science to action.

  1. Develop effective communication strategies to actively engage the Commission.
  2. Inspire and empower CTAG to serve as facilitators for transitioning science into application.
  3. Coordinate SCCWRP’s efforts with those at State and Federal levels.