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Clean Up Cowell’s

Clean Up Cowell’s

Get Cowell’s off the dirtiest beach list.


March 14 2014

New City work group forming to address pollution at Cowell’s

In their efforts to build community awareness of the pollution problems at Cowell's Beach and to help generate the political will to do something about it, the Santa Cruz Chapter's Education Coordinator Amber Jones recently sat down with local surf industry legend Jack O'Neill to discuss the issues at Cowell's.  Read more about this conversation on the chapter's website.

The Chapter has been documenting the water quality impairments at Cowell's Beach for years now through their weekly Blue Water Task Force water testing program.  They are also conducting a comprehensive watershed study of the San Lorenzo River that discharges into the ocean in downtown Santa Cruz in collaboration with the Coastal Watershed Council, the County and City of Santa Cruz, and the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The aim of this study is to locate bacteria hot spots and identify their sources so management agencies can focus remediation strategies to clean up this watershed and ultimately see real water quality improvements at Cowell Beach.  See where the Chapter is testing and view their data on the BWTF website  or check out the BWTF Facebook page.

The good news is that Chapter Blue Water Task Force Coordinator Sam Blakesley recently convinced the City of Santa Cruz to form a working group to come up with solutions to fix the sources of pollution at Cowell's.  The Chapter will join the City and other local environmental NGOs on this working group.  Hopefully this new working group will result in some real improvements at the beach.  The Chapter intends to continue to push for action until Cowell's is off the Beach Bummer list for good.

Ways you can help:

  • Join the chapter's BWTF and help insure that Cowell’s and Main Beach are tested for water quality.
  • Attend public safety committee hearings and ask what is being done to get Cowell’s off the Dirtiest Beaches List
  • Contact the Public Safety Committee and ask David Terrazas what measures they are taking to get Cowell’s off the dirtiest beach list. His email address is
  • Fill out a surfer illness form to document getting sick from surfing.
  • Take photos to document pollution and needles at Cowell’s and Main Beach. Post them on the chapter's Facebook page and let everyone know on twitter with @surfridersc and #CleanUpCowells
  • Tell your friends and family about Cowell’s being one of the dirtiest beaches in California for almost half a decade. Let local business nearby know that you are afraid that you may get sick from spending a day at Cowell’s Beach. Most people don’t realize that Cowell’s beach is dirtier than the Tijuana Rivermouth.

Nobody should get sick from surfing or spending a day at the beach. The Surfrider Foundation San Cruz Chapter’s goal is to get Cowell’s beach off the dirtiest beach list (beach bummer list), and get it back to being a healthy beach for residents and tourists alike to enjoy.

Visit the Campaign Website

  • Chapter:Santa Cruz
  • State: CA
  • Country: USA
  • Theme: Clean Water
  • Launch Date: September 30 2013
  • Completion Date: Ongoing

Sam Blakesly - Blue Water Task Force lab coordinator -