SANTA CRUZ (January 29, 2015)–Several prominent and dedicated environmental groups have come together with the City and County of Santa Cruz to address water quality issues at Cowell’s Beach.
Led by Save The Waves Coalition, the recently formed Cowell’s Working Group aims to identify the primary sources of contamination and collaborate on ways to improve conditions at this popular beach. The Cowell’s Working Group is made up of the Coastal Watershed Council, Surfrider Foundation Santa Cruz, Sierra Club and the City and County of Santa Cruz.
“Santa Cruz beaches have some of the cleanest conditions in California,” said Nik Strong-Cvetich, Executive Director of Save The Waves Coalition. “A stubborn section of Cowell’s beach continues to garner attention each spring for its isolated and elevated bacteria levels and we are determined to identify the reason why and address it.”
The group has outlined a number of concrete actions it will take immediately in the hope of reducing bacteria counts. With the support and leadership of Surfrider’s Bluewater Task Force, a new monitoring site will be implemented in the actual surfing line-up at Cowell’s. “This step supports many of the important actions the City has already taken, such as fixing broken sewer laterals, diverting run-off during the dry season into the waste water treatment plant, sealing off any flows to the beach from Neary Lagoon, and human DNA monitoring,” said Strong-Cvetich.
“Our goal is to bring bacteria counts down as close as possible to naturally occurring levels,” said Steve Wolfman with the City of Santa Cruz. “We will continue to work with our community partners and regional experts to explore new methods which garner results.”
The group will be pursuing additional actions including incentives for updating private sewer laterals and work is being done on an RV discharge program to encourage stewardship and reduce illegal discharging.