Elevated Levels of Bacteria in Ocean Following First Significant Rainfall

What to know about water quality after rain 

By Staff Writer

With the first significant rainfall of the season in the books, authorities are warning beachgoers about elevated levels of bacteria in the ocean, which may come as a dismay to some surfers with a solid swell sending waves to the region. 

“During [an] LA rain storm runoff from our sidewalks and roadways washes into our storm drain system and flushes out to sea. In Los Angeles County alone, there are 70+ major outfalls that spew trash, animal waste, pesticides, automotive fluids and human-gastrointestinal viruses into local bodies of water,” Heal the Bay said in a Facebook post on Wednesday. 

Beachgoers are advised to wait at least 72 hours before entering the water after rainfall, the time it takes for bacteria and other pollutants to dilute back down to safe concentrations. Contributing factors like water flow and currents impact how quickly beaches recover from pollutants in the water.

“Skin infections and rashes; eye, ear and nose infections; and gastrointestinal symptoms are some of the more common yet minor afflictions that can be picked up by surfing or swimming in the ocean after it rains. And there’s worse with MRSA, Vibrio and other life-threatening diseases that are possible to contract if exposed to human sewage in recreational waters,” said Katie Day, Staff Scientist for the Surfrider Foundation in an interview with Palisades News earlier this year. “Beaches near river and stormwater outfalls experience more severe stormwater pollution, as these areas border the immediate discharge areas for debris and pollution swept in from urban areas.” 

To view up-to-date water quality information, visit Health the Bay’s Beach Report Card 

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