Rainfall in the Santa Barbara area on Monday and Tuesday prompted Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services Division to issue a rain advisory on Dec. 13, urging people to not play, swim or surf in oceans or creeks for at least three days after a rain event.
Untreated rainwater — known as storm water — is currently flowing through Santa Barbara’s drainage system into oceans, creeks and other waterways and can be potentially hazardous, a press release issued by Santa Barbara County Public Health on Dec. 13 stated.
“Unlike the municipal sewer system, water carried by a storm drain system is not treated,” the press release said. “Contact with storm water while swimming or surfing may increase the risk for certain types of illnesses such as rashes, fever, chills, ear infections, vomiting, and diarrhea.”
The press release also urged beachgoers to avoid areas near the outfall from drain pipes and creeks that enter the ocean following a rain event because of the high levels of bacteria and pollutants in storm runoff water.
“Sport harvesters should wait at least 10 days after a significant rain to harvest shellfish,” the release continued. “High bacterial levels, pesticide, herbicide and motor oil grease flushed into the ocean with the storm runoff may contaminate the shellfish beds.”
On Monday, an evacuation order was also issued for residents of the Alisal Fire burn area by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office and the National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Watch. Both warnings have been lifted, Santa Barbara County announced Tuesday.