22 Jan, 2010
California’s Rain Leaves 26 Beach Closures, 200 Polluted Beaches
We love our beaches in California. But we love them to death. The majority of the state’s population lives within 50 miles of the Pacific Ocean, and the impacts during rain and storms is great. Trash, oil, and all sorts of pollutants travel through storm drains up to 50 miles from the beach, arriving in the ocean during rain storms.
This week provides an example of the impacts. There are 26 beach closures in San Diego, Los Angeles area and San Francisco, and 200 failing grades at beaches throughout throughout the state. With too many to actually list, we’ll provide some tips on what to do and what to think about.
Shown in the photos above are beautiful birds at a wetlands with a tidal inlet that gets a good washing during rains. The bird waste flows into the sea, contributing to the water quality problem in places where people visit, play, surf & swim.
If you and your curious children like to visit the beach and wander after the rain, it is recommended to keep the kids out of the water for 72 hours (or 3 days). If the kids go in the water, get them to rinse off right away.
Beachcombing isn’t just enjoyed by humans. Shore birds scavenge for food amongst the rubble and refuge that washes ashore after a storm. The picture above (right) taken during this recent event does not fairly represent all the trash mixed into the seaweed and other debris. But if you wander the beach, you’ll find an amazing assortment of trash–balls, shoes, cans, bottles, lids, plastic items, rubber, wood, medical waster, syringes, drugs, and an odd assortment of toys. Hungry birds often mistake the smaller objects as food. These items block their digestive tract, causing death.
Over 1000 miles of coastal sands were washed during the latest storm, rendering nearly half the beaches in the state unsuitable for humans to visit and enjoy. While each of us can make small contributions and we can consciously decide to avoid unsafe waters, the other 75% of the planet that lives in the water doesn’t have that option. And when they go…so do we, according to the principles of the food chain and sustainability for life.
Small ways to help: Consume less throw-away products when you eat, sign up for a beach clean-up, and recycle everything you can.