Last week, the local surf was huge and the amount of rain that fell was small. Still, the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department issued a beach water quality warning, advising the public to avoid ocean contact activities.
According to officials, when a rainstorm hits the Central Coast, local rivers, creeks, and storm water drainpipes discharge contaminated runoff water into the ocean for several days. The water contains bacteria, viruses, pesticides, motor oil, and other hazardous chemicals. People who come into contact with the contaminated water are potentially subject to illness, including infections of the eyes, nose, and ears, plus intestinal issues resulting in diarrhea and nausea.
One SLO County surfer said that he's always wary of entering the ocean after a storm--but despite the warnings, if the waves are good, he's going in.
"I had a buddy that got really sick from surfing Ocean Beach after it rained in San Francisco. He ended up dying, and we always speculated it was a result from that day. So I am a little more wary than most people," said devoted local waterman Tim Limbers. "But if the waves are really good, it wouldn't keep me out while it's raining. It's the days after that concern me."
For specific beach health advisory information, call the Public Health Department Ocean Water Quality 24-hour hotline at 788-3411.