Elevated levels of bacteria were detected at 15 Santa Barbara County beaches this week, and public health officials are cautioning beachgoers to stay out of the water.
Tests show higher-than-usual state safety levels of bacteria lurking on coastlines, and in waters adjacent to storm drains, creeks and rivers. Public health officials are urging people to stay a minimum of 50 yards away from creek mouths and storm drains.
“These are advisories, (and) the beaches are not closed,” said David Brummond, a supervisor of environmental heath with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. “The results are not surprising after the rain event.”
Health officials found the bacteria called total coliforms, fecal coliforms and enterococcus, Brummond said. Studies show post-storm waters can cause for illness, skin rashes, diarrhea, ear infections, sinus infections in people and other unhealthful conditions.
The beach at Arroyo Burro and East Beach at Mission Creek recorded the highest bacteria levels, Brummond said.
“Stay out of the water if it looks discolored or dirty,” Brummond said.
On Tuesday, health officials reported high bacteria levels at the following beaches.
▪ Arroyo Burro Beach
▪ Butterfly Beach
▪ Carpinteria State Beach
▪ East Beach at Mission Creek
▪ East Beach at Sycamore Creek
▪ El Capitan State Beach
▪ Gaviota State Beach
▪ Goleta Beach
▪ Guadalupe Dunes
▪ Hammonds Beach
▪ Hope Ranch Beach
▪ Jalama Beach
▪ Leadbetter Beach
▪ Refugio State Beach
▪ Summerland Beach
Brummond said the coastlines would be tested again Thursday, and results are expected Friday.
“If the water meets standards, the warning status will be lifted,” Brummond said. “If not, the beach will remain on warning status until the water quality improves.”
Santa Barbara County advises people avoid swimming in the ocean for 72 hours following a rainfall event.
Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services Department conducts ocean water testing, and weekly results can be found by clicking here or by calling the ocean water quality hotline at 805-681-4949.