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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 exposure can be reported at this link. The County conducts follow-up investigations, as needed.

For questions about the monitoring program or iif you would like to arrange for water testing, please contact the Water Quality Laboratory at 831-454-4624. 

Regional water quality information is available at:





 Santa Cruz County Water Quality Status
Updated 2/12/2020


Santa Cruz County conducts regular 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 elevated levels of bacterial or other water quality concerns.

As of the County's most recent beach sampling (2/11),  acceptable bacterial water quality conditions are reported for ALL monitored BEACHES.   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.

Please be aware that water quality can deteriorate during and after rainfall. It is important to avoid contact with ocean water for 72 hours (3 days) after storm events to prevent exposure to waterborne contaminants that are mobilized by rainfall and stormwater. We recommend avoiding contact with water in storm drains, creeks, rivers, and lagoons during and after storm events due to elevated levels of waterborne contaminants. 

Santa Cruz County has permanently posted several creeks and lagoons due to impaired water quality (listed from North to South):

  • Moore Creek Lagoon
  • 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



The cyanobacterial blooms have receded in local waterbodies and the County toxin monitoring program will be conducted on an 'as-needed' basis. Please note that it is important to avoid swimming, wading, and other water-sports during a cyanobacterial bloom. When toxins are present, you could be inadvertently exposed to swallowing water, inhaling droplets, or direct skin contact. Cyanobacterial toxins can cause rashes, skin or eye irritations, stomach upsets, or other reactions.  Pets are also vulnerable to toxicity and should be restrained from entering the water or drinking from the shore if a bloom is present.  More information harmful algal blooms is available from





Mussel Quarantine lifted 10/31/2019

The annual California Department of Public Health (CDPH) quarantine of sport-harvested mussels ended October 31st. Recreational harvesting is anticipated to be permissable through April 30, 2020 (unless the CDPA issues an advisory). The quarantine policy applies to all species of mussels that are recreationally harvested along the California coast, including all bays and estuaries.

The quarantine season 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.