December 9, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Bacteria, Pathogens, Sewage: Santa Monica Bay After Rainfall

By Keldine Hull

Two years after California experienced its wettest year since record-keeping began in 1895, the rain continues to fall, ending drought conditions in several parts of California long accustomed to carefully monitoring water usage.

While rainfall is welcome, swimmers, surfers and anyone else who frequents California beaches, especially in Santa Monica Bay, are reminded to be cautious when it comes to going into the water in winter months.

“When rain falls in developed areas, the rainwater becomes stormwater runoff and washes debris and pollutants into nearby rivers, streams and stormwater drains, which eventually flow into the ocean without treatment. Immediately during and after the storm, you can often see evidence of runoff by a change in ocean color from increased sediment in the water right off the beach.” said Katie Day, Staff Scientist for the Surfrider Foundation, “Unfortunately, it’s what you don’t see that can be much more dangerous. Stormwater brings bacteria and other pathogens to the beach where it can cause people to get sick.”

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.

“Beaches and bays that have high water flow and strong currents can sometimes dilute these pollutants faster, while areas with weaker currents and low water flow may require more time- up to ten days. In addition to dilution, the sunlight, saltwater, and even other marine life can help kill excess bacteria over this time- period,” Day said.

Location is another factor in determining which beaches are at greater risk of pollutants following rainfall

“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,” Day said.  “Alternatively, beaches in undeveloped, or less developed, watersheds, such as protected areas or state parks, are less susceptible to stormwater pollution, as there are less pollutants and less runoff since rain gets better absorbed by soil and the natural landscape.”

Despite the warnings, some surfers and swimmers might still feel compelled to go into the water too soon after rainfall, a risk that poses a harmful threat to their health.

“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.”

According to the  Centers for Disease Control (CDC) MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is considered a “Serious Threat”.

Founded by a group of surfers in 1984, Surfrider Foundation has been dedicated to protecting the ocean and beaches through programs and campaigns designed to educate, create solutions, and raise awareness. Once stormwater pollutants and bacteria infiltrate coastal regions, there’s very little that can be done; however, according to Day, there are preventative measures that could keep stormwater from reaching coasts in the first place.

“This can be accomplished by increasing the amount of permeable landscapes that can capture and absorb rainfall or excess water before it gets to the coast. Examples include the preservation of natural areas and habitats like forests and wetlands, the use of permeable roads and sidewalks, and the incorporation of Ocean Friendly Gardening principles that collect, retain and filter stormwater.” Day said, “Ocean Friendly Gardens can be used at private residences, but also along city streets and developments to act as bioswales. Some cities even offer rebate programs to help landowners transition their yards and outdoor areas to Ocean Friendly Gardens to protect beach water quality and reduce water use. In Santa Monica alone, there are two rebate programs including the Rain Harvest Rebate program and the Cash for Grass Rebate program.”

To learn more about the Ocean Friendly Gardening program, visit: go.surfrider.org/ofg.”

Related Posts

SMC’s “Broken Layers” Wins Best Student Film at The Emerging Filmmaker Showcase During the 2021 Cannes Film Festival

December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021

“Broken Layers”—a short film written and directed by Santa Monica College (SMC) film student Niccolo Rolim—has won “Best Student Film”...

Santa Monica High School Gets New Mural

November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

A new mural has come to Santa Monica High School thanks to Beautify Earth, an organization that connects local artists...

Getty Acquires 16th-Century Painting Never Seen by Public

November 17, 2021

November 17, 2021

Jacopo Bassano’s The Miracle of the Quails, 1554, has been rarely seen by scholars and never by the public By...

Día de Los Muertos Community Celebration Coming to Third Street Promenade

October 19, 2021

October 19, 2021

Saturday, October 30 from 5 – 10 p.m. By Staff Writer A Día de los Muertos celebration is planned for...

Film Review: Venom: Let There Be Carnage

October 16, 2021

October 16, 2021

Rated PG-13 90 Minutes Released October 1st in Theatres Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a sublimely cathartic experience –...

Closing Celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month Today

October 14, 2021

October 14, 2021

This Friday, October 15, the Santa Monica community is invited to a closing ceremony for Santa Monica’s first Hispanic Heritage...

Sneakertopia Brings the History and Culture of Sneakers to Life

October 12, 2021

October 12, 2021

Sneakertopia is the ultimate expression of art and culture for all things sneakers offering a massive in-person experience paired with...

Review: Ted Lasoo Season 2

September 19, 2021

September 19, 2021

Rated TV-MA 12 30-Minute Episodes Released on Apple TV+, one 30-minute episode each Friday from July 23rd to October 8th...

Santa Monica Partners with McCabe’s Guitar Shop for a Reimagined Annual Concert Series

September 14, 2021

September 14, 2021

Americana in the Park, a New Free Concert Series Launches this September and October By Sam Catanzaro The City of...

Auditions Open for HVS Conservatory’s Inaugural Vocal Program

September 5, 2021

September 5, 2021

Hollywood Vocal Studios and Adreana Gonzalez are proud to announce the founding of Hollywood Vocal Studios (HVS) Conservatory—a post-secondary school...

Final Weekend of Marina Drive-In Movie Summer Series With New Movies Added

August 28, 2021

August 28, 2021

WHERE: Marina del Rey Boat Launch Ramp, 13477 Fiji Way at Parking Lot #2 COST: $20 per vehicle, per movie...