SANTA BARBARA AND VENTURA COUNTIES, Calif. – Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services and the Ventura County Environmental Health Division both issued health advisories due to area rain to warn of potential health risks for those that come into contact with untreated storm runoff.
Storm runoff is untreated rainwater that flows through drain systems into area waterways and beaches.
Contact with storm runoff while swimming or surfing may increase the risk of certain types of illness such as rashes, fever, chills, ear infections, vomiting, and diarrhea warn the county health agencies.
Unlike municipal sewer systems, water that enters storm drain systems is not treated.
According to the health agencies, it is recommended that beachgoers not come into contact with local waterways for at least three days after a rain storm to minimize the risk of potential health risks.
Ventura County Environmental Health Division detail that in general, 0.2 inches of rainfall may be enough to create significant runoff conditions.
Beachgoers are especially cautioned from swimming near the outfall from drainpipes and creeks that enter the ocean as those locations may carry higher levels of bacteria and pollutants detail Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services.
Bacteriological sampling results for specific Ventura County beaches are available on the Environmental Health Division’s webpage or on their hotline at 805-662-6555.
Sport harvesters should avoid harvesting mussels for human consumption due to naturally occurring biotoxins associated with marine algae growth during summer months note Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services.
The California Department of Public Health has issued an annual warning beginning on Mar. 1 to avoid eating all species of mussels recreationally harvested along the California coast including bays, inlets, and harbors.
The warning only applies to sport-harvested mussels and not commercially grown mussels or other seafood products from State-certified companies. You can call the California Department of Public Health’s toll-free “Shellfish Information Line” at 805-553-4133 for more information.
For the most up-to-date information on recreationally harvested bivalve/shellfish advisories check out this interactive map from the California Department of Public Health.