Cowell’s is #1…again

Yet again Cowell’s beach is at the top of the Heal the Bay Beach Bummer list, but this time is different. Save The Waves Coalition has teamed up with the City of Santa Cruz, the County of Santa Cruz, the Surfrider Foundation Santa Cruz Chapter, Coastal Watershed Council and the Sierra Club to try and tackle the issue of bacteria contamination at Santa Cruz’s most iconic beaches.

Here’s what we’ve seen in the last year of working as Cowell’s Working Group:

The extent of the problem is limited:

Along with Surfrider, we have launched a new monitoring site out in the surf line up to determine the extent of the problem. The data largely show that the issue is concentrated in a specific area, and largely the where people surf is not affected at the same level as the area west of the pier. Additionally, monitoring sites at Cowell’s Life Guard Tower and Cowell’s Stairs have received a score of “A” in the last two years.

Significant infrastructural investment has been made by the City of Santa Cruz:

The City has been all in on this issue, and had made it a top priority. From locating and fixing any broken sewer laterals, diverting run-off during the dry season into the wastewater treatment plant, sealing off any flows to beach from Neary Lagoon, and human DNA monitoring to track sources of the issue.

Here are the recommended actions from the Cowell’s working group:

  • The City and the Cowell’s working group will increase DNA monitoring and source tracking to rule out human influence contributions
  • Bring in an Independent third party to oversee monitoring
  • Help bring about changes to City policy on lateral ordinance
  • Inform wharf redesign plans to reduce potential sources
  • Tackle additional naturally occurring bacteria sources, such as birds roosting under the wharf.

We hope that implementing these changes will yield positive improvement on this issue.

To get involved in this issue or contribute to the cause please visit: https://www.savethewaves.org/cleancowells/