According to data presented at a Heal the Ocean press
conference, the concentration of fecal bacteria along the ocean’s
edge at East Beach is nearly a thousand times higher than it is
just a few hundred yards up Mission Creek, a fact that defies
conventional wisdom linking creek flow to polluted oceans. The news
comes from an ongoing project the United States Geological Survey
is conducting in Santa Barbara, in which 13 water table wells are
used to explore the connections between septic leach fields, sewer
laterals and mains, urban runoff, and ocean pollution. Though the
three-year study – paid for in part by Heal the Ocean – is only
about half over, the early results suggest that nasty pollutants
such as E. coli may be transferred from shallow groundwater sources
into the ocean via the sand, and this process can sometimes take
months. Though lead scientist Dr. John Izbicki (pictured left) was
quick to caution that the results are only preliminary, he said it
does not appear this bacteria hails from the city’s main sewer line
in the area, but rather from lateral line leaks.


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