Recent Rain May Raise Bacteria Levels in Ocean, Bay

While the recent winter rain has certainly been a welcome in the middle of California’s drought, the Department of Environmental Health warned the water runoff could raise levels of bacteria in ocean and bay waters.

According to the department, urban runoff near storm drains, creeks, rivers and lagoon outlets may contain large amounts of bacteria from sources like animal waste, soil and decomposing vegetation.

While many coastal storm drains in the County have permanently posted signage warning of the runoff, temporary warning signs on beaches aren’t posted for general advisories. The Department of Environmental Health suggests avoiding swimming, surfing and diving in all coastal waters, including Mission and San Diego bays, for 72 hours after the rain.

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Elevated bacteria levels can persist after a rainstorm depending upon the intensity of the storm, volume of runoff and ocean and current conditions. 

Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field Park is currently closed at its shoreline due to sewage-contaminated flows from the Tijuana River. The closure will remain in effect until sample results, collected by Envivironmental Health, indicate safe bacteria levels.

For updates on beach closure information, visit or call the 24-hour hotline at 619-338-2073.