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Health Officials Warn Santa Monica Beach Goers to Stay Away from Storm Drains

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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

October 8, 2015 --  Visitors to Santa Monica and other beaches in Los Angeles County are being warned to avoid areas where discharging storm drains, creeks and rivers could dump hazardous levels of bacteria into the water due to this week’s rainfall.

The advisory remains in effect at least until 7 a.m. Friday. Beach goers could flock to the beaches this week with temperatures in Santa Monica expected to hit the 90-degree mark Thursday and reach near 100 on Friday.

“Bacteria, debris, trash, and other public health hazards from city streets and mountain areas are likely to enter ocean waters though these outlets,” according to a notice from the county Department of Public Health.

Bacteria or chemicals from debris and trash can contaminate the water near and around discharge sites, possibly exceeding state standards and increasing the possibility that those who enter the water could become ill, health officials said.

Those outlets, though, comprise only a small portion of the beach, so if beach goers stay away from them they should be safe, officials said.  Areas of the beach away from discharge sites are exempted from the advisory.

Recorded information on beach conditions is available 24- hours a day on the County's beach closure hotline: 1-800- 525-5662. Information is also available online at our website: PublicHealth.LACounty.gov/Beach/.

A low-pressure system scattered sporadic rain showers throughout Los Angeles County Sunday and Monday. But it was expected to move eastward, leaving behind rising temperatures that could hit triple-digits across the Los Angeles region this weekend.

Rain advisories are issued when there is enough rainfall to cause bacterial levels in the ocean waters to rise due to contaminated runoff containing urban runoff and sewage overflow.

Polluted waters may contain disease-causing pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses and protozoa. All are associated with human and animal waste, experts say.

Swimmers in sewage-polluted water can contract any illness that is spread by fecal contact, including stomach flu, respiratory infection and ear and skin infections. Most swimming-related illnesses last from a few days to several weeks, but in some persons may cause severe, long illness or even death.

Children, the elderly or those with a weakened immune system are particularly at risk for long-term effects.

Often, though, beach goers and swimmers don’t make the connection between polluted ocean waters and their illnesses.

“There is usually a delay of several days to two weeks between contact with contaminated water and expression of symptoms, and most people who get sick from swimming are not aware of the link,” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental organization.

Health and sanitation workers sample water routinely on all beaches in Los Angeles, including eight sites at Santa Monica State Beach.


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