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Water Quality Resources

 Water quality updates from Santa Cruz County's Environmental Health Service are provided on-line.
If you believe you may have been exposed to water-borne illness from water recreation in Santa Cruz County, please report any issues or concerns to the Water Quality Laboratory at 831-454-4624 or the Environmental Health Office at 831-454-2022. Illnesses can also be reported at this link. The County issues advisories when there are water quality concerns and conducts follow-up investigations as needed.
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 Water Quality Laboratory at 831-454-4624 or the Environmental Health office at (831) 454-2022. 




Water Quality Report for Santa Cruz County

Week of March 18, 2019

Santa Cruz County conducts weekly monitoring of more than a dozen local beaches in accordance with the State of California Recreational Water Program.  Bacterial water quality was  acceptable  at ALL beaches monitored this week EXCEPT Lighthouse Beach. Please note that storm runoff can affect water quality and we recommend caution within 72 hours after a rain event. 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


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 February 27, 2019 are:

  • Microcystin: Not Detected (<1 part per billion)
  • Advisory status-No advisory in effect

Please note that Pinto Lake is currently closed because of extremely high water levels. 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 lifted

The annual California Department of Public Health (CDPH) quarantine of sport-harvested mussels willl be in effect May 1st through October 31st. The quarantine applies to all species of mussels that are recreationally harvested along the California coast, including all bays and estuaries.

The quarantine is intended to prevent exposure to the marine biotoxins that can be associated with mussels and clams who feed on plankton along the California coast. The consumption of shellfish may cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) or domoic acid poisoning.

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.

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