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Coalition formed to deal with water quality issues at Cowell's



Environment Updates

Cowell's Beach in Santa Cruz tops 'Beach Bummer' list

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 18 June, 2015 - Santa Cruz - While a section of Cowell’s Beach remains on Heal the Bay’s ‘Beach Bummer’ list this year, a new and collaborative effort to address the issue is creating an innovative approach through science, policy change and outreach.

Save The Waves Coalition has teamed up with the City and County of Santa Cruz, the Surfrider Foundation Santa Cruz Chapter, Coastal Watershed Council and the Sierra Club to form the The Cowell’s Working Group.

To date, the group has launched proactive measures including the establishment of a new monitoring site in the surf lineup to determine the extent of the problem.  In addition, the group regularly shares and reviews data across its member agencies. Recent data show the issue seems to be concentrated in a specific area west of the wharf, and the area where people surf is found to have lower bacteria levels.

“As a collaborative group, we are committed to solving this issue,” said Nik Strong-Cvetich, Executive Director of Save The Waves Coalition. “Clearly there is more work to be done and we believe this collective approach will lead to real progress.” The group has also made a number of concrete recommendations including:
    •    Increased DNA monitoring and source tracking to rule out human influenced contributions
    •    Bring in independent third party monitoring to verify data
    •    Evaluate City’s policy on lateral ordinance
    •    Inform wharf redesign plans to reduce potential sources
    •    Tackle additional controllable bacteria sources, such as birds roosting under the wharf

Significant investment in infrastructure has also been made by the City of Santa Cruz including locating and fixing broken sewer laterals; diverting run-off during the dry season for treatment; sealing off flows to the beach from Neary Lagoon during summer; and monitoring human-associated bacteria DNA to track sources of the issue.


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