The Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services Division issued a rain advisory for countywide beaches due to continuing rainfall across the region.
The county wanted to remind residents about potential health risks associated with stormwater runoff.
Stormwater 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 certain types of illnesses such as rashes, fever, chills, ear infections, vomiting and diarrhea.
To minimize potential health risks, it is recommended that people not swim, play or surf in the ocean and creeks for at least three days following a rain event, according to the county Public Health Department.
Beachgoers should also avoid areas near the outfall from drain pipes and creeks that enter the ocean following a rain event as storm water runoff may carry high levels of bacteria and pollutants.
Sport harvesters should wait at least 10 days after significant rain to harvest shellfish. High bacterial levels, pesticide, herbicide and motor oil grease flushed into the ocean with the storm runoff may contaminate the shellfish beds.
Consuming raw or undercooked contaminated shellfish may result in serious illnesses. 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 the shellfish.
To find out what is being done by the county to improve water quality and how you can help, visit www.sbprojectcleanwater.org.