Data provided by deputy health officer Dr. David Ghilarducci shows the overdose epidemic only worsening in 2022.
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Morning Lookout: Fentanyl stalks drug-use concerns, ‘groundbreaking’ water policy and new eateries

Hello, Lookout friends! It is Monday, Dec. 5, and it looks to be another day of dodging raindrops for Santa Cruz County, with precip possible into Tuesday and temperatures in the 50s.

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Ahead of a Monday evening town hall, Mark Conley spoke with county officials about the continued danger of fentanyl; they confirm that local deaths from the synthetic opioid will set a new high even as data shows increasing drug use among Latino youth. And don’t miss Mark’s earlier series on the local toll of fentanyl: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Recent rains have been good news for local water supplies, but the city of Santa Cruz is keeping its eye on an increasingly parched future, Christoper Neely reports, with the city council approving a policy that includes desalination and recycling wastewater as options for increasing water supply.

On the local food and drink scene, meanwhile, three new eateries are aiming to open in downtown Santa Cruz this month, while a wine tasting room is coming to Aptos — and Lily Belli has a preview.

Monday is last day to nominate local heroes for our upcoming Unsung Santa Cruz series, so if you know someone who is working every day at a vital but overlooked job or undertaking with little to no appreciation, read on for how you can get them recognized. Check out our 2021 series here.

The day’s headlines also include how erosion spells a troubling future for West Cliff Drive and a call to ocean action, so let’s take a look.

With fentanyl ODs still surging, increasing drug use among Latino youth has county leaders concerned

Counterfeit prescription pills are attacking people in Santa Cruz County, especially young people.
(Via U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency)

A survey conducted among high school youth in Watsonville earlier this year confirmed that a growing number of kids are experimenting with substances beyond alcohol and marijuana on a regular basis. Leaders hope a Spanish-language town hall Monday night will help illuminate the problem more broadly — and affirm to parents the danger fentanyl presents. The number of deaths the synthetic opioid has caused in Santa Cruz County in 2022 will set a new high, Lookout has learned. Mark Conley reports.

QUELLING THE “STIGMA OF SHAME”: County’s top doctor opens up about the pain of losing a child to fentanyl (Lookout)

Santa Cruz needs more water; city’s new policy keeps desalination, recycled wastewater on the table

The San Lorenzo River.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Desalination, the process of filtering seawater into clean drinking water, has had a rocky past in Santa Cruz. However, a new city policy says the technology, among other strategies, could come in handy in an increasingly parched future. Get the details from Christopher Neely.

FROM NOVEMBER: Commission OKs desalination plant on Monterey Bay — the most contentious one yet (CalMatters)


O'Neill Sea Odyssey PROMOTED CONTENT ROADBLOCK (Expand ocean education)

Santa Cruz County Job Board

That’s what I know this here Monday ... well, that and there’s plenty more coming from Lookout, of course. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you don’t miss anything, and sign up for breaking news alerts and our other free newsletters by clicking right here.

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Take it slow out on those slick roads, and may your Monday be a pleasant one.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz