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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 3/26/2020

Precautionary Health Advisory 72 hours after rainfall

Santa Cruz County's beach monitoring program is operating on a reduced schedule during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. 

Based on the most recent sampling (March 25th), ALL monitored BEACHES have ACCEPTABLE bacterial water quality. Data for each monitoring location can be viewed on the on-line map. Please avoid swimming, wading, and other water-sports when there is a health advisory. If you have questions about water quality within the County, please contact the water quality program.

When visiting beaches, please adhere to  COVID-19 Precautions including maintaining distance from other people (at least 6 ft), copious washing with freshwater and soap, and staying away from other people, especially if you are not feeling well.

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 seven 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 County cyanobacterial toxin monitoring program is conducted on an 'as-needed' basis through May; routine monitoring is scheduled to begin in June. 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 CDPH 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.