Thursday, December 23, 2010
Southern California residents who endured flooding, mudslides and evacuations during a weeklong onslaught of rain now have another problem: contaminated water and fouled beaches.
The rain washed trash, pesticides and bacteria into waterways, prompting health warnings. Several beaches are off-limits because of sewer overflows, including Imperial Beach and along the Silver Strand in Coronado in San Diego County.
While the sun may be shining in San Diego, Gabe Solmer with San Diego Coastkeeper said swimming in the ocean is a bad idea.
"People should avoid being out in the water for 72 hours after a rain event and we've certainly had that over the last six days," Solmer said. "Rain significantly raises bacteria levels along the coastline, especially near storm drains and river or lagoon mouths."
Solmer said heavy rain causes more pollution to get flushed into the ocean.
"And that means that debris, trash, oil, bacteria - the coastline is just inundated -and that's why we should stay out of the water," Solmer said.
While waiting 72 hours after a storm before getting into the water is recommended, some health officials say staying out of the ocean for five days after these rains might be wiser.
The contamination in some areas could last for weeks because of the especially heavy rains.
Sewage flows from Tijuana are carried north across the border, frequently causing closures due to contamination from Imperial Beach to Coronado.