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Water Quality Resources

 Water quality updates from Santa Cruz County's Environmental Health Service are provided on-line and by calling (831) 454-3188.
If you believe you may have been exposed to illness through water contact, please submit an Illness Report.
Additional regional water quality information is available at:

For questions about the monitoring program, testing methods, or interpretation of results, please contact either Dr. Audrey Levine or John Ricker . Queries can also be made by contacting the Environmental Health office at (831) 454-2022. 

If you would like to receive email updates about Santa Cruz County's water quality program, please contact us:

Subject line: Please add me to the water quality email distribution list



Current Water Quality Status

Week of April 16, 2018

Degraded water quality due to recent rains.

Twin Lakes State Beach, Sunny Cove Beach, Moran Lake Beach, Capitola Beach both east and west of the jetty, New Brighton State Beach and Seaclilff State Beach had elevated bacteria levels.

All other beaches tested this week met safe body contact standards.

Santa Cruz County conducts weekly monitoring of more than a dozen local beaches in accordance with the State of California Recreational Water Program. Up-to-date sampling results are provided on the County's on-line map.

Santa Cruz County has permanently posted the creeks and lagoons listed below due to water quality concerns. Up-to-date monitoring data are available here

  • Neary Lagoon outfall at Cowell Beach 
  • San Lorenzo River mouth
  • Schwann Lagoon at Twin Lakes Beach
  • Soquel Creek mouth at Capitola Beach
  • Porter Gulch Creek at New Brighton Beach
  • Aptos Creek at Rio del Mar Beach

 Water quality can deteriorate during and after rainfall. We recommend avoiding direct contact with water in rivers, creeks, or storm drains for at least three days following significant rainfall.


Pinto and Kelly Lakes are subject to seasonal blooms of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) that can release harmful toxins. The City of Watsonville monitors Pinto Lake at the City Dock to determine if microcystin (a cyanobacterial toxin) is present. Results for the most recent samples collected on April 11, 2018 are:

  • Microcystin: Not detected (< 1 part per billion)
  • Advisory status-ALL CLEAR  

It is important to avoid swimming, wading, and other water-sports during a cyanobacterial bloom. When toxins are present in the lake, you could be inadvertently exposed from direct skin contact, swallowing water, or inhaling droplets. Cyanobacterial toxins can cause rashes, skin or eye irritations, stomach upsets, or other reactions.  Also do not allow your pets to enter the water.  More information harmful algal blooms is available from the California Department of Public Health and  the USEPA.




Mussel Quarantine Status for the week of April 16, 2018.

Mussel Advisory lifted for San Luis Obispo County.

The California Department of Public Health lifted its mussel advisory for San Luis Obisbpo County on April 11, 2018. Advisories for the Counties listed below remain in effect.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning consumers not to eat recreationally harvested mussels, clams, or whole scallops from Santa Cruz County. Dangerous levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins have been detected in mussels from this area. The naturally occuring PSP toxins can cause illness or death in humans. Cooking does not destroy the toxin.

Health advisories due to PSP are also in place for Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Sonoma Counties

Early symptoms of PSP include tingling of the lips and tongue, which may begin within minutes after eating toxic shellfish. These symptoms are typically followed by loss of balance, lack of muscular coordination, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing. In severe poisonings, complete muscular paralysis and death from asphyxiation can occur.

The annual sport-harvested mussel quarantine is typically from May 1 through October 31 and is intended to protect the public from shellfish poisoning caused by marine biotoxins. 

Additional information on shellfish advisories and quarantines is available from CDPH’s toll-free Shellfish Information Line at (800) 553-4133.