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Beach Sediment Sampling FAQ

Beach Sediment Sampling

Frequently Asked Questions


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NOTICE: Following the storm and debris flows on January 9, 2018, material from the creeks and local roadways of the Montecito and Carpinteria communities has been taken to various disposal sites. Sorted sediment was trucked to Goleta Beach and Carpinteria Beach at the end of Ash Ave for beach disposal. A permit obtained from the Regional Water Quality Control Board for the disposal of the sediment required testing of the sediment.

The following questions and answers provide a Public Health review of the testing results and an explanation for our community.

What is the takeaway from these test results?

Detected chemical concentrations were below levels of concern. Out of an abundance of caution, the Public Health Department recommends that beach goers avoid direct contact with the sediments, observe buffer zones, and stay out of the ocean water during beach closure.

Where were samples taken for the tests?

Public Health has reviewed test results from sediment samples collected at Goleta Beach and Carpinteria Beach at Ash Avenue.

When were samples taken?

Samples were taken from sediment deposits at Goleta Beach and Carpinteria Beach at Ash Avenue on Jan 23, 2018.

What were samples of sediment measuring?

An outside lab analyzed samples for metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, oil & grease, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, also known as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons), and organo-chlorine pesticides. . All concentrations of chemicals were either not detected or below levels of concern.

What levels of oil and grease were found?

Test results for oil and grease are typical of urban and highway runoff.

What levels of metals were found?

Test results for metals reflect levels typical of native soil in the Santa Barbara south coast area.

What levels of fuel and oil were found?

Petroleum hydrocarbons including gasoline, diesel fuel and oil were not detected in sample of sediments from Carpinteria Beach. Gasoline was detected in the sample from Goleta Beach but were below levels of concern.

What levels of PAH’s were found?

PAHs were detected in sediment samples from both beaches were below levels of concern

What levels of pesticides were found?

The pesticides (DDT, DDE, DDD and dieldrin) were detected in the samples of Goleta Beach sediments, but were below levels of concern.

Who is considering impacts on fish and shellfish?

Public Health has and will continue to coordinate with the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and California Fish & Wildlife for additional recommendations concerning fish & shellfish.

How can we monitor what is happening over time?

Public Health will continue to sample ocean waters for bacterial contaminants and continue with appropriate advisories for ocean water body contact. The County will collect sediment samples at beach disposal site every three days.

The Regional Water Quality Control Board also offers the following information on the first set of sediment sample results that were taken on January 23rd:  The sediment was analyzed for petroleum hydrocarbons, oil and grease, metals, pesticides, ammonia, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and amount of silt and clay. Samples from both locations meet the guidelines Central Coast Water Board staff use to determine that sediment is suitable for placement on the beach. Metals and polyaromatic hydrocarbons were at levels where toxic effects are not expected. Pesticides and petroleum hydrocarbons were below cleanup levels. Oil and Grease and ammonia were at concentrations that could cause momentary and localized exceedance of water quality standards, but wave action will quickly reduce concentrations to levels below the standards. The material was approximately 85% sand grain size or larger, which meets the typical standard for beach placement.

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