Rain Season Advisory
updated: Feb 26, 2014, 3:17 PM
Source: Public Health Department
Health Services Division reminds residents about health issues associated with
storm water runoff. Storm water is untreated rain water that flows through the
drain system into creeks, the ocean and other waterways. Studies indicate that
contact with storm water 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 the 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. If people do choose to swim during the rain or
immediately following the rain, they should avoid areas near the outfall from
drainpipes and creeks that enter the ocean. Beachgoers should also avoid
discolored water, as this may indicate high pollutant levels.
Sport harvesters should wait until at least 10 days after a 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. When raw or undercooked contaminated shellfish is eaten, serious
illnesses such as gastroenteritis, septicemia, salmonellosis, and hepatitis may
result. 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.
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.
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