CORONADO, Calif. — Just days after rain left the city with flooding waters and streets covered in debris, runoff is also leading to unsafe swimming conditions along our coast.
Right now, there are currently four beach closures in our region: Imperial Beach Shoreline, Tijuana Slough Shoreline, Silver Strand Shoreline, and Coronado Shoreline. The San Diego Department of Environmental Health and Quality warning beachgoers to stay away until further testing.
“Storms are coming in out of tropical cyclone, out of cyclone cloud masses, and some of that is heading here south of San Diego…and the winds heading up the coast are bringing the water up and that also means it is bringing up the pollutants from Baja California.”Dr. Pat Abbott, Geologist
Along the Coronado shoreline water contact warning signs line the sand, alerting beachgoers to steer clear.
“The signs were a little worrisome. I didn’t notice them that much at first. These swells are supposed to becoming from the south…and coming from the river and I think I’m going to try to avoid these warning signs and find some other spots to surf,” Franz Thoma shared with FOX 5 while exiting the water after a late afternoon surf.
Ringing in the new year with moderate rain and gusty winds has led to these south swell conditions and urban runoff across the U.S. Mexico border raising bacteria levels in ocean and bay water here at home. Pathogens that may be found in swimming water contaminated by sewage or urban runoff could lead to certain illnesses and symptoms like stomach cramps, fever and diarrhea.
“Anytime there is a storm moving south along the Baja California coast, it’s going to bring their pollutants up here. They treat a very small percentage of their sewage; it moves through the ocean, and it will come up here and get to Imperial Beach and Coronado,” Abbott said.
Meanwhile, downed trees and debris take over yards and roads.
“When the soil is so wet, like we’re having right now, where we’re having a lot of rain, and the soil becomes so saturated, the tree roots don’t have anything to hold on to, it’s like they’re planted in water and that’s what causes them to fall,” explained Chuck Morgan with Tree San Diego, a local nonprofit set to impact and improve the quality and quantity of the urban forest in San Diego.
Arborists like Morgan equipping San Diegans with advice to help trees weather the next round of storms like cutting back on foliage so wind can pass through easily, and to also keep a close eye on the base of the tree.
“In a windy wet situation, you want to look at the trunk of the tree, and see if you’re seeing movement on that, if you’re seeing any upheaving along the base of the tree,” Morgan said.
For long lasting results, arborists suggest routine maintenance like getting trees trimmed every three to five years.
As for beach closures, closures will remain in effect until sampling confirms these areas are safe.