Unfortunately as surfers we know all too well that storms not only bring swell to the beach but can also wash pollutants off the land and into the water. Depending on where we live, advisories are often issued to stay out of the water 24, 48 and even 72 hours after the rains end. Along with roadside trash, surging stormwater can bring oil, debris, pet and animal waste, and even worse - human sources of waste from flooded septic systems and cess pools, to the beach and into the ocean water.
The storm swell can be hard for die hards to resist though, and surfers who don't heed the advisories can experience a range of symptoms from exposure to ocean water polluted by stormwater runoff, including eye, ear and nose infections, skin rashes, respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms. Learn more here.
During the heavy El Niño rains that fell over the California coast last week, a group of fifth-graders from the Pegasus School in Huntington Beach were our first line of defense out testing the ocean water to see how safe it was. The students results showed that bacteria levels exceeded state and federal health standards at their sampling location at Brookhurst Street in Huntington Beach State Park. CBS Los Angeles picked up the students story and gave them great media coverage here.
The students water testing program is supported by the Huntington Beach Surfrider Chapter's Blue Water Task Force program. See where else they are testing and view all of their results on the Blue Water Task Force website. Check out the Chapter's Facebook page for current events including a great video of sampling the Santa Ana River during the storm last week.
Today our Blue Water Task Force volunteers trenched through the storm to grab the first water samples of the year from the Santa Ana River! We'll be testing for enterococcus bacteria, which is an indicator bacteria for more harmful types like streptococcus and e-coli.Results pending... stay tuned!#BWTF #Surfrider #SantaAnaRiver #WaterTesting #Ecoli #Bacteria #Volunteer #NewYear #HSBSurfrider Surfrider Foundation Huntington Beach, CaliforniaPosted by Huntington Beach Surfrider Foundation on Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Any reports of illness contracted after surfing or swimming in the ocean can be made using Surfrider's Ocean Illness Reporting Tool.