Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

A beach closure has been issued in Montecito due to a spill of untreated sewage. The Santa Barbara Public Health Department issued the “BEACH CLOSED” notice on Tuesday, January 17, for Miramar Beach and Fernald Point Beach. 

The spill involved a release of approximately 5,760 gallons of sewage from a compromised sewage line to San Ysidro Creek, on East Valley Lane in Montecito, the department said. Miramar and Fernald Point beaches are within 2,000 feet of the San Ysidro Creek outfall, and have been closed to recreational water contact.

The Montecito Sanitary District reported that the sewage spill was a result of recent rainfall washing out a creek bank, which compromised the sewage line on East Valley Lane. The line has since been repaired; however, since San Ysidro Creek flows into the ocean near the two Montecito beaches, Public Health must first sample the water to confirm it meets state health standards for swimming and surfing.

Signs have been posted around the affected area to warn the public to avoid contact with the water until it is deemed safe for recreational use. Contact with sewage contaminated water increases the risk for certain types of illnesses.

This is the second sewage spill that has closed a South County beach in just over a week. During the January 9 storm last week, 5,000 gallons of sewage spilled into a storm drain discharging to Mission Creek, near Vernon Road and Serena Road, closing West Beach for several days.

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Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services is also asking residents to be aware of potential health risks associated with storm runoff at countywide beaches following recent rainfall. Storm water is untreated rainwater that flows through the drain system into creeks, the ocean, and other waterways, according to Public Health. 

Contact with storm water may increase the risk for certain types of illnesses, such as rashes, fever, chills, ear infections, vomiting, and diarrhea. Unlike the municipal sewer system, water carried by a storm drain system is not treated. To minimize potential health risks, Public Health recommends that people do not swim, play, or surf in the ocean and creeks for at least three days following a rain event. 

In addition, the department says people should avoid areas near the outfall from drain pipes and creeks that enter the ocean following a rain event as storm water runoff may carry high levels of bacteria and pollutants. 

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