Cowell Beach Water Quality Improvement Recognized by Heal the Bay Report

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Photo: Nikki Brooks

Save The Waves is pleased to announce that Cowell Beach has dropped to number eight on Heal the Bay’s annual “Beach Bummer” list, after nine consecutive years as number one or two, and moving to number three in 2017. Heal the Bay’s report card reflects the continued progress and determination by Save The Waves and our partners to improve water quality in the narrow area adjacent to the Santa Cruz Wharf, which has been the area of focus for the last several years.  

In 2014, the Cowells Working Group was formed to study and address the vexing water quality issue at Cowell Beach. The group, facilitated by Save The Waves, is comprised of  the City of Santa Cruz, County of Santa Cruz, Surfrider Foundation, and Sierra Club. Through the work of this group we have now a much better understanding of the sources of bacteria and have worked to eliminate them.

Save The Waves’ Director of Programs, Nick Mucha, added “The Cowells Working Group has been a great example of vested stakeholders working collaboratively to tackle a chronic community issue. This year’s improvement is the result of hard work from the entire CWG. Their investments of time and resources have paid off through the installation of steel netting under the wharf to prevent roosting by birds, and additional measures to reduce impacts from trash and storm drains.”

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“Heal The Bay’s report confirms the City’s continued progress and determination to improve water quality in the area immediately adjacent to the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, which has been an area of concern for several years,” said Mayor David Terrazas, longtime CWG member and environmental advocate. 

However, our work is not complete. It’s not enough to move from number one to number three to number eight on Heal the Bay’s Beach Bummer list. We’ll keep at this until we’ve completed our work and addressed the varied and complex roots of this problem. I am optimistic that we’ll be off the list entirely next year.”

The Cowell Working Group is committed to continuing these improvements and is optimistic about further bacteria reductions this year. The group plans to pursue additional infrastructure improvements, enhanced water quality testing standards, and ongoing community outreach.

Mayor Terrazas continued, “Our top priorities now are increased maintenance at Cowell Beach, public education and outreach, and a comprehensive review of the water-testing standards currently in place. Cowell Beach is one of our City’s best-loved destinations for locals and visitors alike. We owe it to this generation and those in the future to protect our beaches and resolve the factors contributing to water pollution alongside our beautiful Municipal Wharf.”  

About Cowell Working Group

For more information, including specific goals and priorities, visit www.savethewaves/cleancowells/

CWG consists of Save The Waves Coalition, City of Santa Cruz, County of Santa Cruz, Surfrider Foundation Santa Cruz, and Sierra Club.

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