Santa Cruz County Water Quality Status
Week of September 16, 2019 (updated 9/17/19)
Santa Cruz County conducts weekly monitoring of more than a dozen local beaches in accordance with the State of California Recreational Water Program. The County issues health advisories when there are water quality concerns. Currently (as of 9/17/19), Rio del Mar Beach at Aptos Creek, New Brighton Beach, and Cowell Beach at Stairs are under health advisory status due to elevated levels of bacteria ; bacterial water quality was acceptable at ALL other beaches monitored this week.
The water quality status for each monitoring location is displayed on on our on-line map where you can zoom-in on specific sites for the most recent data for each location. Please avoid swimming, wading, and other water-sports when there is a health advisory. Santa Cruz County has permanently posted several creeks and lagoons due to impaired water quality:
- 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
Please be aware that water quality can deteriorate during and after rainfall. We recommend avoiding contact with ocean water for 72 hours (3 days) after storm events, especially near storm drains, creeks, and rivers.
CYANOBACTERIAL BLOOM ADVISORY
As the water warms up in lakes and the lower reaches of rivers, seasonal 'blooms' of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) occur under certain conditions (presence of nitrogen and phosphorus, sunlight, semi-stagnant water). During August and September, the County is screening local freshwater sites for the presence of cyanobacteria and toxins (microcystin). Based on recent samples (week of August 26th), cyanobacterial toxins (microcystins) were detected in Pinto, Kelly, and Drew Lakes at levels below 3 parts per billion. Cyanobacterial toxins were also detected in Corocoran Lagoon. The EPA standard for recreational water is 8 parts per billion. Please note that 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 or drink from the shore. More information harmful algal blooms is available from