With more rain expected on Saturday, Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services is reminding residents about health risks associated with stormwater runoff at beaches.
Storm water is untreated rainwater 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 illnesses such as rashes, fever, chills, ear infections, vomiting and diarrhea.
To minimize risks, county officials recommend that people do not swim, play or surf in the ocean and creeks for at least three days following rain. Beachgoers are also advised to avoid areas near the outfall from drain pipes and creeks that enter the ocean because stormwater runoff may carry high levels of bacteria and pollutants.
Sport harvesters should wait at least 10 days after a significant rain to harvest shellfish, officials said. High bacterial levels, pesticide, herbicide and motor oil grease flushed into the ocean with the storm runoff may contaminate the shellfish beds.
Adequate cooking of shellfish will destroy harmful bacteria, but may not be effective in killing viruses. In addition, cooking does not eliminate chemical and metal pollutants in shellfish, according to County Environmental Services.
For more information, visit www.sbprojectcleanwater.org.
— Katherine Zehnder