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Santa Monica Mountains' Popular Swimming Holes May Be Tainted With Poop

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There's nothing like a cool and refreshing dip in mother nature's ponds to beat the summer heat. However, a newly-released study might make you think twice before jumping in, as two popular swimming holes in Santa Monica Mountains may contain enough poop to make you sick.

Heal the Bay studied three fresh-water ponds in the Santa Monica Mountains and found two of them were especially gross, according to the L.A. Daily News. While Solstice Canyon waterfall fared well in the study and was found to have good water quality, the ponds that were questioned were Las Virgenes Creek and Rock Pool, both at Malibu Creek State Park near Calabasas. Malibu Creek State Park is famously known as the spot where M*A*S*H and other TV shows and films were shot.

Researchers took samples of the water from these ponds twice a week from June to September last year, and studied them. They said the bacteria they found in the waters "may indicate fecal matter and a host of disease-causing microorganisms." Researchers say human waste is coming from septic tanks and sewage leaking into the water. * Shudder. * There's also animal poop coming in the ponds either directly or through water runoffs.

All this poop in the water could pose a health risk, since researchers found that the amount of Enterococcus and E. coli—two kinds of bacteria that indicate there's fecal matter—in these two swimming holes exceeded health limits.

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The author of the Heal the Bay study, Katherine Pease, told the Daily News about the consequences of having filthy water like this. "It means that there's a higher likelihood that you can get sick with skin rash, or stomach sickness, or intestinal illness or infections."

Heal the Bay suggests that the park put up signs to let people know about the waters and educate the public about it. While they are concerned about the fecal matter found in these ponds, they said in a blog post that they're "reluctant to completely discourage people from swimming" at these three swimming spots. However, if folks do want to swim there, they have some tips:

*Don't swallow any water.
*Avoid swimming if you have any cuts or sores.
*After taking a dip, be sure to shower with soap.