Ever hear the warning ‘don’t swim or surf after it’s rained’?
Runoff Rain Water
This is because of the surface runoff in rainwater, created by urbanization. This runoff is a major source of flooding and water pollution in urban communities worldwide. Surface street run off waters are dumping serious amounts of bacteria, human and animal waste overflow and hundreds of pounds of plastic waste into the surf. Sewage pipes are allowed to overflow and discharge into rivers and the sea during storms. Yet, many people are torn between big waves, and polluted waters.
Many public officials try and make light of this issue. Recently a spokesperson for Los Angeles County stated that the debris we see after a storm does not pose a threat to the public. These same people are convinced that during these storms, dangerous sharks are sucked out of the water and tossed about, thus driving them away from the shores.
After it rains everyone should avoid entering any water especially near stream mouths, river mouths and channels. The fast-moving water not only contains overflowing sewer water but becomes inundated with a lot of abundant amounts of trash washing off the streets, including dead animals, stream fish weakened by exposure to salt water, and rubbish. After the rain these flooded murky waters attract small fish that come to feed. These small bait fish will eventually attract hungry sharks browsing to feed, that have come back towards the shallow waters. And when that happens, the low visibility, due to murky water make it more difficult for sharks to determine whether your fish or human and is known to increase the risk of people getting bitten by sharks.
Ocean water contaminated with sewage, storm run-off and oil carry bacteria, parasites, and viruses, which can cause a variety of diseases. The murky waters contain high levels of bacteria that could make swimmers sick. Research is being conducted throughout the world on the dangers of rain water runoffs and the dangers of surfing or swimming during or after a rain.
Studies have found that when surfers and swimmers come in contact with sewage-polluted water they contract a wide variety of illnesses. Gastroenteritis or GI, is spread by the ingestion of bacteria pathogens in fecal-contaminated water. Symptoms are cramps vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache, nausea, headache, and fever. Other disorders causes by the polluted water include hepatitis, respiratory illness, and ear, nose, and throat problems, giardiasis, amoebic dysentery, skin rashes, and pink eye, and ear infections.
Swallowing or inhaling the polluted water through your nose or mouth or being in the water with an open sore after a rain will almost definitely cause an infection. Streptococcus bacteria also known as Strep can cause serious infections and even kill you.
As well oil carries with it bacteria, parasites, and viruses, which can cause a variety of diseases. This “toxic cocktail” of pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals and other pollutants can definitely affect your body as well.
That said, it is best to avoid polluted waters for 12 to 72 hours following heavy storms. After 3 days water levels typically return to what’s considered safe.
If you are still willing to sacrifice your health after reading this, consider moving away from runoff areas, and stay out of murky or discolored water. If you see lots of leaves and plastic bottles floating around, then get out of the water. Storm water can look clean and still have a very high concentration of disease carrying pathogens and bacteria.
It is up to you to keep yourself and family safe. Remember you will not normally see signs posted, warning the public of dangerous water. In Orange County the Department of Health has been quoted as saying, “We just assume all surfers know that the water is polluted after it rains.