Protecting public health through water quality monitoring
Indicator bacteria are monitored in water samples from beaches, lagoons, streams, and groundwater to determine potential health risks associated with exposure to fecal pollution. Sources of bacteria include improperly managed waste, stormwater runoff, animals, birds, septic tank discharges, livestock, and other activities that could mobilize pollutants. Bacteria levels are frequently elevated in the aftermath of rainfall and storm events.
Coliform bacteria and Enterococci are indicator bacteria that are associated with fecal pollution. For beaches in Santa Cruz County, the levels of bacteria are compared to Standards for primary contact recreation to determine whether a Health Advisory should be issued and whether follow-up investigations are needed.