Don't surf in California after storms

March 11, 2014 | Environment
Huntington Beach Pier: the road is clear, but is it clean?

Californian surfers are advised to stay out of the water five days after it rains.

It might sound strange, but a new study by UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability reveals that levels of bacteria in the water after storms are alarming.

For seven years, scientists studied water quality data from 32 popular beaches in Los Angeles and Orange counties. They discovered that elevated levels of bacteria lingered in the water in beaches located near storm drains and creek outlets.

"Although the three-day rule is simple, it is not applicable to all beaches and is not the best protection of public health," explain the researchers at the UCLA.

"Public health agencies should warn beachgoers to avoid water contact at enclosed and storm drain, creek or river impacted beaches for at least five days after a significant rain".

The three-day rule is appropriate for open beaches only. Scientists also recommend that California develop a uniform statewide storm drain impacted beach classification and monitoring protocol.