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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 August 13, 2018

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 monitored beaches this week except Twin Lakes Beach . 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 August 15, 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

The annual quarantine of sport-harvested mussels began May 1st.

 The California Department of Public Health (CDPH)  announced the annual quarantine of sport-harvested mussels gathered along the California coast. The quarantine began May 1st and applies to all species of mussels that are recreationally harvested along the California coast, including all bays and estuaries. The quarantine is in place to protect the public against poisoning that can lead to serious illness, including coma and death.

The quarantine is designed to prevent paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and domoic acid poisoning in people who might otherwise consume sport-harvested mussels. Both of these toxins are linked to plankton consumed by shellfish, including mussels and clams.

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 1st through October 31st 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.