December 23, 2010L
Swim at Your Own Risk!
By Zack Gold
Co-president, Heal the Bay Surfrider Club
Santa Monica High School 601 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90405
Student Contact: Zachary Gold
Teacher Contact: Benjamin Kay
Three hours ago, student members of Santa Monica High School’s Teach and Test Ocean Water Quality Monitoring Program, sponsored by Surfrider Foundation, removed ocean samples from their classroom incubator to discover super high fecal bacteria levels at all three of their Santa Monica sites: Pico-Kenter and Santa Monica Pier storm drains as well as Lifeguard Station 26. Students collected the samples 24 hours earlier on Wednesday to determine the level of Enterococcus bacteria, a bacteria found in human and mammal feces, and one used as an indicator of ocean health and human risk by Los Angeles County.
The mean values of Enterococcus bacteria for Lifeguard Station 26, Pico-Kenter, and Santa Monica Pier ocean sites were 1193, 1414, and 2240 colony forming units per 100 mL, respectively. The state’s acceptable levels for Enterococcus colony forming units is 104. Thus, student data show the water quality is over 10 times worse than the state’s acceptable level, indicating very polluted water quality and an increased risk to beachgoers.
Zack Gold, co-president of the Heal the Bay Surfrider Club and student leader of the Teach and Test program explained, “The water quality results for bacteria from this week’s sampling were absolutely appalling. We should never have fecal indicator bacteria levels 10 times higher than the state's acceptable level. We know for sure that the chances of getting sick increase greatly when it rains, yet I saw lots of surfers at Lifeguard Station 26 and at Pico Kenter storm drain in the disgusting water. The trend in our data is pretty clear – about 10 months of good water quality during the dry season followed by spikes of Enterococcus in the wet season and with this heavy rain we definitely got a spike."
Teach and Test students inform over 10 local surf shops and other businesses about their results on a weekly basis. Stores then post the results using their “safe to surf?” water quality boards that the students helped make and distribute with Surfrider Foundation.