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Environmentalists warn of toxic rain runoff at beaches

October 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
One day after our big rainstorm, people are being told to stay out of the water.

The environmental group "Heal the Bay" says runoff from Wednesday's storm could be dangerous to your health.

They say there are dangerous bacteria lurking in the sand- toxins from motor oil, pesticides, fertilizers, animal feces, and then there's the trash. It's all runoff from the first rain of the season.

The chemicals and plastic are so dangerous to human and animal life, that there are warnings to swimmers and surfers to stay out of the water for 72 hours.

"In California we tend to have an extended dry period over the summer," said Heal the Bay Water Quality Director Kirsten James. "And so all of that pollution is collecting on our streets, sidewalks, lawns, and when that first rain comes through it pushes it all down to the ocean."

Heal the Bay says everyone is responsible for pollution on city streets and everyone can do their part to minimize the runoff.

"Don't litter, also pick up after your pets is a good common sense kind of thing we can do every day," said James. "Put minimal amounts of fertilizers on your lawn, only what's necessary. All these simple tasks really help our water quality.

City leaders are addressing the problem on a bigger scale. Two weeks ago Los Angeles city council members approved a low impact development ordinance that requires developers to trap as much rain water as possible.

"It's basically taking the development back to nature," said James. "Things like grassy swales and rain gardens, and rain barrels. So it's really low-tech solutions that can really be impactful to water quality."

Over 50 local municipalities have bans on plastic and Styrofoam, yet the problem persists.


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