A warning sign for contaminated beach water via San Diego County.
A warning sign for contaminated beach water via San Diego County.

A general advisory for the coastal waters of San Diego County was issued Saturday by the Department of Environmental Health, warning against human contact because of runoff from recent and ongoing rainfall.

Swimmers, surfers and other ocean users were warned that levels of bacteria can rise significantly in ocean and bay waters, especially near storm drains, creeks, rivers and lagoon outlets that discharge urban runoff.

“Urban runoff may contain large amounts of bacteria from a variety of sources, such as animal waste, soil and decomposing vegetation,” the advisory said. “While many coastal storm drains within San Diego County are permanently posted with white metal warning signs, additional temporary warning signs are not posted for general advisories.”

Activities such as swimming, surfing and diving should be avoided in all coastal waters for 72 hours following rain. This includes all coastal beaches and all of Mission Bay and San Diego Bay, according to DEH.

Elevated bacteria levels can persist after a rainstorm, depending on the intensity of a storm, the volume of runoff, and ocean and current conditions.

A water contact closure remains in effect for Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field Park because of sewage-contaminated flows from the Tijuana River entering the United States, according to DEH.

Signs will remain in place until sample results indicate the ocean water is safe for recreational use. The DEH will continue to monitor water quality in Imperial Beach. The access road to Friendship Park, within Border Field State Park, may also be affected with sewage-affected runoff and should be avoided.

More information on the Tijuana River is available at the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission, (619) 662-7600. Updates on beach closure information can be found at www.sdbeachinfo.com or at the 24-hour hotline, (619) 338-2073.

— City News Service