Blue Water Task Force, Partnerships, Solutions, Source Identification, Water Quality
February 15 2016


by Mara Dias

Cowell Beach Working Group presents findings and recommendations for tackling bacterial pollution at Cowell Beach.

On February 1rst, the Cowell Beach Working Group that formed to investigate the causes and solutions for the bacterial pollution at Cowell Beach, held a community forum to present their findings and recommendations.  Extensive testing last year revealed that high bacteria counts do not extend far from the pier, and studies to determine sources along the wharf (looking for caffeine) do not suggest that the bacteria pollution is human related. 

The Santa Cruz Surfrider Chapter is a member of the Working Group, along with Save the Waves, the Coastal Watershed Council, the Sierra Club and the City and County of Santa Cruz.  The Chapter has been monitoring this beach through their weekly Blue Water Task Force water testing program, and supported the Working Group's efforts this past year by extending their testing into the surf zone to map out the extent of the bacteria problem near the wharf and along the beach.

Led by Save the Waves, the Working Group has presented the following recommendations for the City of Santa Cruz to consider. 

  • Put in screening to reduce gull and pigeon roosting under the wharf.
  • Continue to inspect and fix sewer laterals to eliminate human sources of bacteria.
    • Monitor groundwater in surrounding area
  • Increase police presence for night time and early mornign patrols on beach.

These management actions are recommended in addition to further community education and outreach around the issue - with the ultimate goal being to protect public health at the beach and getting Cowell's Beach off the Beach Bummer list!

Read more about the issues and the Working Group's recommendations on Save the Waves website

Learn more about the Santa Cruz Chapter's efforts over the last two decades to protect clean water in their community in this case study.