Tuesday, August 9, 2022

County Adding New Warning Category to Inform Beachgoers

Image: County of San Diego

On July 1, 2022, the County of San Diego will begin using a new beach water-safety category and signs at local beaches in its continuing efforts to educate and protect the public’s health.

The new “warning” category will join the existing advisory and closure categories. Warning signs will tell beachgoers that beach water may contain sewage and may cause illness if people come into contact with it. With transboundary south swell conditions expected this Fourth of July weekend, warning signs may be posted at South County beaches.

Here are the category differences:

Advisory Category

An advisory sign is posted for awareness for beachgoers when test results exceed State health standards, but no known sewage conditions exist, and water is not moving from south to north.  When an advisory is posted, it means people have a higher chance of getting sick based on testing levels of bacteria found in the water that may cause illness.

New Warning Category

A warning sign will be posted for beachgoers when testing exceeds State health standards AND south swell (transboundary flow) ocean conditions are pushing waters from the south to the north. A warning indicates that even though sewage impacts are not verified, sewage may be in the water due to the south swell  conditions. Warnings will help people make their own decisions about whether to enter recreational waters. Previously, test results and a south swell would have resulted in a beach closure.

Closure Category

Beach closures are issued if there are known sewage impacts. This means it is known for sure there is sewage in the water, and to protect the public’s health, State law requires the closure of affected beaches. Closures follow reported sewage spills, or when the Tijuana River is flowing and reaching recreational waters, or when County environmental health experts verify sewage odors or water discoloration reported by lifeguards, beach managers, and/or surfers/swimmers.

The new warning category will be implemented through the end of September to evaluate how well it serves the public and our communities.

No Signs

No signs posted? No need to worry, just enjoy the beach!

County officials encourage residents and visitors to learn more about water quality conditions and risks by using the QR code on posted beach signs or by visiting sdbeachinfo.com for more information.

In May, the County became the first coastal county in the United States to start using rapid, DNA-based water quality testing technology (ddPCR) that produces faster results.  This technique came after nearly 10 years of testing, pilot programs, and working with federal, state and local agencies.

You can learn more about each of these beach water quality management categories on DEHQ’s popular “Check in Before You Get In” website.

Source: County of San Diego

Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]