Good News From First DNA Tests of Goleta Beach

Good News From First DNA Tests of Goleta Beach title=
Good News From First DNA Tests of Goleta Beach
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By Melinda Burns

Initial DNA testing of bacteria in the mud and the surf zone at Goleta Beach, where the county is dumping mud from the Jan. 9 debris flow in Montecito, show very low to no evidence of human fecal material, a UCSB scientist said today.

“This is good news,” said Patricia Holden, a professor of environmental microbiology who began the DNA study at the beach on Jan. 18. “I’m so delighted.”

Holden said the initial DNA results, covering seven days through Jan. 26, are similar to what her team has detected during water quality testing at Goleta Beach in the summer months, when no dumping was taking place.

Holden said her team also found very low to no evidence of two pathogens in the mud or the surf zone during initial DNA testing at the beach last month. Those are tests for a human-specific virus and a bacterial pathogen not specific to humans, she said.

The debris from the Montecito cleanup is being trucked first to the Ventura County Fairgrounds, where it is sorted into piles of mud, rocks, wood and metal. From there, the mud is being trucked to Goleta Beach. In addition, since the storm, the county has been dredging out mud clogging the Salt Marsh Reserve and dumping it at Carpinteria Beach.

Twice-weekly samples taken by county Environmental Health Services from the surf zone at both locations have shown high levels of fecal bacteria since the dumping began. But those tests do not identify whether the bacteria come from humans as opposed to, say, horses, dogs or birds. Human material is most likely to cause a public health risk.

The high bacterial levels at Goleta Beach are “definitely associated with the mud,” Holden said, adding, “We may not ever know the exact source.”

The county’s emergency permit for the dumping operations at Goleta and Carpinteria beaches will expire on Feb. 20. Holden said she will continue bacterial DNA testing at Goleta Beach through Feb. 28, provided funding is available.


Melinda Burns is a freelance journalist based in Santa Barbara. 

Past Article

 February 1, 2018 - UCSB Team Tests for Fecal Matter at UCSB Beach

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mrtrump Feb 11, 2018 08:57 AM
Good News From First DNA Tests of Goleta Beach

The test by UCSB does not identify the scientific protocol that was used. The testing that is being done by the county uses an established scientific protocol and is arriving at vastly different conclusion, which this article fails to include in its totality. Science can be twisted by "professors" to obtain the desired political result. Besides, Melinda Burns qualifications as an objective journalist commenting on scientific issues is highly suspect.

Luvaduck Feb 11, 2018 08:35 AM
Good News From First DNA Tests of Goleta Beach

That's not 'good' news, it's <Great> news! I had visions of heavy metals sinking and poisoning the beach and persistent bacteria problems through the summer. I'm not a "whiner", but I am a worrier. So many expedient decisions have turned out to have miserable unintended consequences. Politicians aren't known for scientific background or willingness to stand up against pressure, especially monied pressure, and most laborers favor "down and dirty" and "git it done" rather than foresight. That can be a dangerous combination.

Schifter Feb 10, 2018 11:00 PM
Good News From First DNA Tests of Goleta Beach

Right on pstarsr. Some people who claim to care about the environment love to whine about all the problems humans cause, love to whine about proposed solutions, and most of all, love to whine about real progress being made to said problems...because once solutions are found, they have to find something else to whine about. Which, as you pointed out, is why no one has commented on this article. Because all they really want to do is point fingers and whine, not actually make things better.

pstarSR Feb 10, 2018 02:45 PM
Good News From First DNA Tests of Goleta Beach

no comments? odd, everyone was soo eager to complain about the mud at the beach and the "possible" toxic elements. but now they have tested it and cleared it, wheres the "thank you for verifying it" or "sorry we jumped the gun and were blasting you for dumping benign mud at a beach" selective outrage strikes again

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