Rain triggers beach closures near border due to water contamination

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SAN DIEGO -- County environmental health officials issued a closure Thursday along the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field State Park due to sewage-contaminated water.

The San Diego County Department of Environmental Health issued the water-contact closure following rainfall this week that caused contaminated water in the Tijuana River to flow into U.S. waterways. County officials regularly issue beach closures after rainstorms due to contaminated flows from the river.

“You don’t want to get sick, and the best way to avoid that is to avoid the water," said Joseph Palmer with the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health.

The closure extends along the shoreline from the U.S.-Mexico border to the northern end of the Imperial Beach shoreline. County officials have placed water-contact closure signs to alert beachgoers of the water's contamination.

Palmer said DEH will be able to lift beach closures quicker than ever before thanks to new testing technology that allows them to get sample results back within 24 hours.

“What that allows us to do is to lift the closure one to three days earlier than we previously could have done," Palmer said.

The signs will remain in place until water sampling meets state health standards. County officials also warned residents Wednesday to avoid coastal waters for 72 hours after rainfall ends to avoid contact with urban runoff like animal waste and decomposing vegetation.

Residents seeking information on the Tijuana River can contact the San Diego division of the International Boundary and Water Commission at 619-662-7600.

Residents also can find information on beach closures at sdbeachinfo.com or by calling 619-338-2073.

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