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First winter rain closes beaches in Southern California

First winter rain closes beaches in Southern California

Urban runoff. It is still one of the main contributors to ocean pollution and the single biggest threat to water quality in coastal communities. After every rain, most Southern California beaches are closed for up to 72 hours because of urban runoff.

Keep pout - beach closed

Urban runoff is water that flows over man-made surfaces in densely populated areas and drains directly into water bodies. Stormwater, irrigation and other water absorb thepollutants on top of the surfaces  such as oil, pesticides, metals, bacteria and viruses and toxic chemicals.

In Southern California, storm drains carry millions of gallons of polluted runoff to the ocean after every rainfall. In most coastal communities, these public storm drains directly link to the ocean beaches without any wastewater treatment. Unlike sewage water, Storm drains are intended to take rainwater straight to the ocean to avoid area flooding. However, they carry many things with them and especially after the first rainfall of the season, many items along the way are washed out through storm drains into the oceans, leading to beach closures because of contaminated water.

Storm drain on a beach

Therefore, the protection of our local waters depends upon all citizens, all businesses – everyone. We can no longer point to huge sewage treatment plants or industrial facilities as the most significant contributors of ocean pollution. Here are a few things you can start doing today to help reduce ocean pollution from urban runoff.

  • Storm drains are for rainwater only. Do not dump any other liquids in there because it will reach the ocean unfiltered.
  • Do not throw any litter into the street, because they will be washed away through storm drains
  • Pick-up after your pet. Animal waste, when left on the ground, washes down storm drains and contaminates beaches
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides and fertilizers for your landscaping needs
  • Do not over water plants to avoid irrigation runoff
  • Cover piles of dirt or mulch in your yard to prevent wind or rain from carrying offsite
  • Repair any car leaks as soon as you notice them
  • Use a commercial car wash. This way, the water is recycled several times before going to the sewer system for treatment

Closed beach with surfers

For additional information, check out the ocean minded non-profit organizations in your area, such as: