The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department issued a “BEACH CLOSED” notice today in response to a spill of untreated sewage.
The spill involved a release of at least 5,000 gallons of sewage to a storm drain discharging to Mission Creek, near Vernon Road and Serena Road in Santa Barbara. As a result, West Beach from Santa Barbara Harbor to 2,000 feet east of the eastern Mission Creek outfall has been closed to recreational water contact. The affected area has been posted with signs warning the public to avoid contact with the water until sample results indicate the water is safe for recreational use. Contact with sewage contaminated water increases the risk for certain types of illnesses.
In addition, with the continuing heavy rainfall, Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services wants to remind residents about potential health risks associated with storm water runoff at countywide beaches. Storm water is untreated rain water that flows through the drain system into creeks, the ocean, and other waterways. Contact with storm water while swimming or surfing may increase the risk for certain types of illnesses such as rashes, fever, chills, ear infections, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Unlike the municipal sewer system, water carried by a storm drain system is not treated. To minimize potential health risks, it is recommended that people do not swim, play or surf in the ocean and creeks for at least three days following a rain event. Beachgoers should also avoid areas near the outfall from drainpipes and creeks that enter the ocean following a rain event as storm water runoff may carry high levels of bacteria and pollutants.
The County of Santa Barbara implements a variety of programs to protect public health and enhance environmental quality of County watersheds and beaches. Working to improve water quality by reducing or treating sources of pollution is a multi-faceted task. To find out what is being done to improve water quality and how you can help, visit www.sbprojectcleanwater.org.