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Rain = Beach Yuck

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Rain over Malibu's beaches | Photo by chrisamichaels via Flickr

Rain over Malibu's beaches | Photo by chrisamichaels via Flickr
Whenever it rains in Los Angeles, it exemplifies how we are all connected, whether living in the Valley or at the beach. "The county’s 2,800-mile storm drain system is designed to channel rainwater to the ocean to prevent local flooding," explains officials from the nonprofit Heal the Bay. "But it also has the unintended function of moving pollution directly into the Santa Monica and San Pedro bays following rainstorms."

While Heal the Bay warns that people should avoid water contact within 72 hours after rainfall, the Los Angeles County of Public Health is a bit more optimistic about the situation, telling people to only avoid water contact near discharging storm drains, creeks, and rivers. “Fortunately, discharging storm drains, creeks, and rivers only comprises a small portion of the beach, and therefore, anybody who wants to go to the beach will be able to enjoy their outing,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, the county's health officer.

Bacteria, debris, trash, and other public health hazards from city streets and mountain areas are likely to enter ocean waters though these outlets, explain health officials. Heal the Bay adds that each month an estimated 1 million cigarette butts are dropped on the ground, 82,000 dog droppings are not picked up by owners and driveways and sidewalks are hosed off into storm drains 415,000 times.

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The county's advisory will be in effect until at least Friday, October 16, at 4:30 p.m. Updated info can be found by calling the beach closure hotline at 1-800-525-5662 or visiting their website.