6 LA County beaches cited for high levels of bacteria, possibly related to fecal matter

Public health officials in Los Angles County are measuring high levels of bacteria at six popular beaches, possibly related to fecal matter.

The department’s warning includes: 

  • Inner Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro (entire swim area);
  • Malibu Lagoon at Surfrider Beach (100 yards up and down the coast from the public restrooms);
  • Mothers Beach in Marina Del Rey (entire swim area);
  • Santa Monica Pier (100 yards up and down the coast from the pier);
  • Pico-Kenter storm drain at Santa Monica State Beach (100 yards up and down the coast from the storm drain); and
  • Topanga Canyon Beach in Malibu (100 yards up and down the coast from the Lagoon).

Yellow signs have been posted at these locations warning people to avoid water contact activities.

"It’s such a bummer," said Julia Ruscio, a beachgoer at Mother’s Beach.  "Especially on nice days like today. Not even necessarily swimming, but just splashing around a little bit.  It just sucks not being able to use it."

Despite the yellow warning sign placed on the beach near the Santa Monica Pier, several beachgoers were seen swimming in the water Tuesday afternoon.

"You can’t worry about every single thing," said Elise, a swimmer in Santa Monica. "I’m going to go wash my hands. It’ll be good."

A spokesperson from L.A. County Department of Public Health says, "Beach water is tested to determine if runoff from the streets is contaminating the ocean waters with bacteria which can make swimmers ill. Water is tested for bacteria that serve as indicators for fecal contamination, such as total coliform, fecal coliform (or E. coli), and enterococci bacteria."

Officials say high levels of fecal matter in the ocean can be the result of:

  • large amounts of trash
  • ocean debris such as fresh seaweed
  • an increase in people/activity
  • more birds or wildlife at the beach
  • or an event resulting in storm drain runoff that pushes water into the ocean.

Officials stress that the beaches remain open.  However, people are warned to avoid swimming at the locations with high levels of bacteria.