County issues warning to avoid ocean, bays after rain

Beach contamination

SAN DIEGO — Beachgoers were advised Wednesday to avoid coastal waters in San Diego County, including Mission Bay and San Diego Bay, as rainfall may have pushed bacteria-laden runoff into the ocean.

Over a 48-hour period ending at 8 a.m. Wednesdsay, automated gauges collected 1.74 inches of rain in the Barrett Junction area; 1.72 inches in Palomar Mountain; 1.58 inches in Birch Hill; 1.43 inches in Mount Laguna and Tierra Del Sol; 1.28 in Descanso; 1.13 on Otay Mountain; 1.08 in Alpine; and .96 in Pine Valley, according to the National Weather Service.

The end-of-summer storm dropped lesser amounts elsewhere in the county, including .87 of an inch in Barona; .80 in Harbison Canyon; .75 at the Tijuana Estuary; .73 at Brown Field; .67 at the San Diego Country Estates; .63 on Mount Woodson; .60 in Agua Caliente; .55 at Lake Wohlford and in San Ysidro; .42 in Borrego Springs; .37 at Montgomery Field; and .31 at Lindbergh Field.

The rainfall prompted the county’s Department of Environmental Health to issue an advisory that swimming, surfing and other activities in coastal waters should be avoided for 72 hours after the precipitation tapers off.

County officials said bacteria levels could rise significantly after rainfall, especially near storm drains, creeks, rivers and lagoon outlets that discharge urban runoff. The runoff may contain bacteria from a variety of sources including animal waste, soil and decomposing vegetation.

The coast along the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field State Park were also off-limits to water contact due to currents carrying sewage-contaminated flows from the Tijuana River north into the United States. The closure area extends from the south end of Seacoast Drive to the border, according to the county.