Over the past 17 years, Coastal Watershed Council has been partnering with the City of Capitola on the Urban Watch monitoring program. From June to September each year, volunteers study water quality in Soquel Creek, local tributaries, and stormwater outfalls by measuring the temperature, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and by sampling for common bacterial and nutrient pollutants.
In 2017, 25 volunteers contributed about 355 hours to exploring and studying water quality in Soquel Creek and Capitola. Thank you to awesome teams of volunteers and our brilliant summer interns who made this study possible!
Urban Watch 2017 Findings:
- Nitrate measured in Soquel Creek, Noble Gulch and local stormwater outfalls continue to meet standards for good water quality.
- Orthophosphate levels, which historically meet standards for good water quality, were low except for one notable exceedance in September. The high level of orthophosphate occurred around when a dip in dissolved oxygen at the same site was measured. This could suggest the occurrence of an algal bloom.
- Apart from this instance, dissolved oxygen levels, an important component in healthy aquatic ecosystems, were generally good.
- Bacteria levels persisted at certain sites with spikes in E. Coli and Enterococcus measured.
At the sites where high levels of bacteria and nutrients were measured, there is a need for additional investigation. In 2018, CWC will continue to partner with the City of Capitola to deepen our understanding of pollution sources in the lower Soquel Creek watershed. We would like to learn where these pollutants are coming from and if they are an anomalous or part of a newly developing problem. Over the next year, CWC staff and volunteer will conduct a targeted in-depth study and analysis of local pollution concerns by:
- Reviewing historical lower Soquel Creek watershed water quality data.
- Investigating the potential sources of elevated bacteria and nutrient levels at or near relevant sites.
- Implement a summer water quality monitoring program that focuses on identifying sources of pollutants.
- Developing a plan to prevent pollution based on the geographic hotspots or sources that are identified. Pollution prevention will include educating nearby residents about how they can protect water quality.
If you would like to volunteer and help with these efforts please sign up below!