Bookmark and Share

Contact information and regional water quality websites

Please report water quality concerns to the Water Quality Laboratory at 831-454-4624 or the Environmental Health Office at 831-454-2022. Illnesses related to water exposiure can be reported at this link. The County conducts follow-up investigations, as needed.

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. 

Regional water quality information is available at:





 Santa Cruz County Water Quality Status

Week of July 15, 2019 (updated 7/19/19)

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 advisories when there are elevated levels of bacteria or other water quality concerns.  Bacterial water quality was  acceptable  at MOST  beaches monitored this week EXCEPT Cowell Beach.

The current water quality status for each monitoring location is displayed on on our on-line map where you can zoom-in on specific sites for current data. 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. The County issues advisories when there are water quality concerns and conducts follow-up investigations as needed.



Pinto and Kelly Lakes are subject to seasonal blooms of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) that can release harmful toxins.The County conducts periodic monitoring of sites at Pinto and  Kelly Lakes for the presence of cyanobacteria and evidence of toxins. Based on samples collected on July 16, 2019, the concentrations of microcystin (a cyanobacterial toxin) are increasing in Kelly Lake (> 2 parts per billion).  Microcystin was detected (1 part per billion) in samples from the dock at Pinto Lake.  The EPA standard for recreational water is 8 parts per billion.

The City of Watsonville conducts regular screening at Pinto Lake at the City Dock to determine if microcystin is present. Results for the most recent samples collected on June 26, 2019 are:

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

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.  More information harmful algal blooms is available from the California Department of Public Health and  the USEPA.




Mussel Quarantine in effect through October 31

The annual California Department of Public Health (CDPH) quarantine of sport-harvested mussels is 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.