Blue Water Task Force, Partnerships, Solutions, Source Identification, Water Quality
January 26 2015

Tackling Contamination at Cowell’s Beach in Santa Cruz

by Mara Dias

The Santa Cruz Chapter has been documenting the water quality problems at Cowell's Beach for years now through their weekly Blue Water Task Force water-testing program.  They are also investigating the sources of bacteria pollution throughout the San Lorenzo River watershed, which discharges into the ocean right in downtown Santa Cruz. The Chapter has also convinced the City of Santa Cruz to form a Working Group that is tasked with finding and implementing pollution solutions so we can ultimately see real water quality improvements at Cowell’s Beach.   Read more about the Santa Cruz Chapter's campaign to Clean Up Cowell's here.

The Cowell's Beach Working Group is made up of representatives from the City Manager’s Office and Public Works Department, Santa Cruz County Division of Water Resources, Saves the Waves Coalition, Coastal Watershed Council and the Santa Cruz chapters of Surfrider Foundation and Sierra Club.

The Group is changing management practices of the Neary Lagoon outfall that empties onto the beach.  A gate has been installed at the lagoon and a diversion pump to block foul water from reaching the beach is in the works.  The Group is also considering creating a new citywide sewer lateral inspection program.  Area sewer mains were replaced in recent years, but the city wants to ensure laterals connecting homes and businesses to the system are in good working order. 

A full report from the Working Group is expected this spring.  Read more about the efforts to solve the water pollution problems at Cowell's Beach and to finally take this popular beach off the 'Beach Bummer' list.  

Panel tackles contamination at Santa Cruz’s Cowell Beach