SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -

Two projects to improve water quality at Cowell Beach have received preliminary funding approval from the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Financial Assistance.

Cowell Beach is a priority beach for the Clean Beaches Initiative Grant Program due to its periodic poor water quality, and it has been previously listed as a “Beach Bummer” in Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card.

A $450,000 grant to the City of Santa Cruz will fund part of a $600,000 project to improve the Neary Lagoon storm water drainage facilities, which are believed to be one of the sources of human bacteria contamination at Cowell Beach. The remainder of the project money will come from the city of Santa Cruz.

A grant of $307,000 grant to the Santa Cruz County Sanitation District will fund part of the estimated $1.3 million project to repair a pressurized sewer pipeline that travels under Neary Lagoon to the wastewater treatment plant near Cowell Beach. The pipeline is anticipated to be another source of beach contamination.

The Clean Beaches Initiative program has funded over 100 projects along the coast.