CORONADO, Calif. — San Diego County officials are adding a new “warning” category to let beachgoers know about potential contamination in the water.
This comes after the region rolled out a new water quality test in May, which has resulted in several South Bay beaches closing these past few weeks.
Now officials want to give the option to beachgoers to go into the water, but at their own risk.
“A ‘warning’ means that you have a 3% chance of maybe getting sick, but it’s up to you, because you can still get in the water. But you might get an ear infection, you might be sick to your tummy,” said County Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Nora Vargas.
The new “warning” category — accompanied by a new blue sign you might see at the beach instead of the familiar “advisory” and “beach closure” signs — is part of the county’s new water testing program.
“The rapid test is much more sensitive than the traditional test. It is much more reliable in detecting the risk from human sewage, and the old test often failed to detect when the markers for sewage were present,” Vargas said.
She says this new test is also able to turn around results the same day. With the warning, they will be able to avoid total beach closures, and allow beachgoers to decide to go into the water or not.
Some officials have questioned whether the new testing system is too sensitive, though.
“We are not questioning the validity of this new testing protocol; we are questioning whether the threshold is good public policy or whether or not it’s unnecessarily closing down beaches and putting up warnings when none should really exist,” Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey said.
The new “warning” signs will start to be implemented on July 1, and the county will see how well they serve the public before deciding whether to continue using them at the end of September.