Storm Prompts General Warning to Stay Out of the Water

The county’s first significant winter storm has prompted a 72-hour general advisory for San Diego’s coastal waters and beach closures for the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field State Park in South County.

The San Diego County Department of Environmental Health (DEH) issued the general advisory, warning swimmers, surfers and other ocean users to stay out of the water for 72 hours, because rains can significantly increase bacteria levels in ocean and bay waters — especially near storm drains, creeks, rivers and lagoon outlets. Rains create “urban runoff” that washes pollution from streets, landscapes, homes and roads to the ocean and bay.

This includes all coastal beaches and all of Mission Bay and San Diego Bay. Elevated bacteria levels can persist after a rainstorm depending upon the intensity of the storm, volume of runoff and ocean and current conditions.

Urban runoff may contain large amounts of bacteria from a variety of sources such as animal waste, soil, and decomposing vegetation. While many coastal storm drains within San Diego County are permanently posted with white metal warning signs, additional temporary warning signs are not posted for general advisories.

Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field Park

DEH also issued a water contact closure for the ocean shoreline at Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field State Park due to sewage-contaminated flows from the Tijuana River entering the United States. The closure area includes the beach-line from the south end of Seacoast Drive to the International Border. Signs will remain in place until sample results indicate the ocean water is safe for recreational use and DEH will continue to monitor water quality at other beaches in the area. Please be advised that the access road to Friendship Park, within Border Field State Park, may also be affected with sewage-impacted runoff and should be avoided.

For more information about the Tijuana River, please call the U.S. International Boundary & Water Commission at 619-662-7600. For updates on beach closure information please visit our website at www.sdbeachinfo.com or call the 24-hr. hotline at (619) 338-2073.

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact