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Oceans and Beaches FAQ

Oceans and Beaches Frequently Asked Questions

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How can I help clean up the beaches?

Beach clean-up activities may present hazards. If the public is engaged in beach clean-up, they should use caution and consider the following recommendations:

  • Wear steel-toed boots (ASTM with steel shanks to protect from stepping on sharp objects)
  • Wear thick protective gloves
  • Ensure clean-up facilities are available to thoroughly wash up with soap and water, not just hand sanitizer
  • Do not open or touch containers that could hold hazardous materials

How do I know if ocean water is safe?

Ocean water is tested for bacterial levels a minimum of once per week. When the test results exceed the standard levels significantly, the ocean water is closed. If the test results show that the levels are slightly above the standard, a warning is issued. If all of the test results reflect levels below the standards, the ocean waters are open.

Which ocean waters are open now?

Please refer to the Ocean and Beach Safety page for the latest updates.

Where have there been ongoing concerns about high bacterial levels?

As of February 2, 2018, only three local beaches had closed ocean waters due to bacterial levels that were far above the standards. Those beaches are Carpinteria State Beach, Goleta Beach and Hammond’s Beach. As of April 4, 2018 only Goleta Beach was closed. Carpinteria Beach is under a standard warning/advisory based on recent test results.  Please refer to the Ocean Water Monitoring page from the Public Health Department for the latest updates

When ocean waters are closed, what does that mean?

Ocean water is not open to any activities such as swimming, surfing or playing in the water. Raw fish and shellfish caught off the pier or near the oceans edge at these beaches should be cooked prior to eating. Ocean water closures do not reflect any changes to the sand on those beaches.

Which beaches have warnings?

Please refer to the Ocean and Beach Safety page for the latest updates.

Where are the samples collected at Goleta Beach? When will the ocean waters at Goleta Beach be open? (Reports say ‘west buffer’ and ‘east buffer’)

The regular ocean water sample point is at the far east end of the park at the slough outfall. The West and East buffer samples come from either side of the area where the sediment deposition occurred, near the west end of park. Goleta ocean waters will be opened when two consecutive sample results are below state standards for fecal indicator bacteria from buffer areas and regular sample point.

When will the ocean waters at Carpinteria State Beach be open? What is the status of Carpinteria City Beach?

Carpinteria State Beach is currently under warning status based on ocean water testing results exceeding state standards for fecal indicator bacteria. Carpinteria City Beach ocean waters were re-opened after two consecutive results were below state standards. The County no longer routinely samples Carpinteria City Beach. Once an acceptable test result is obtained from Carpinteria State Beach, the warning will be lifted.

When will the ocean waters at Hammond’s Beach be opened? Is it closed because of the debris flow?

Hammond’s Beach has been opened effective April 4, 2018 based on two consecutive sample results below state standards for fecal indicator bacteria. The creek at Hammond’s Beach has continued to flow since the 1/9 Debris Flow and was likely the source of elevated bacteria levels in the ocean waters. No sediments were deposited on this beach.

What are some of the potential health effects of contact with ocean waters which exceed state standards for fecal indicator bacteria?

Potential health effects include respiratory infections, skin rashes, and gastroenteritis.

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During an emergency when the power is out and when critical and timely information must get out to the general public, the County Office of Emergency Management will utilize satellite equipment to regularly communicate with designated County radio stations that have generators and can continue to broadcast. Visit this link for a list of stations to check if you lose power and cannot access the Internet.

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105 E. Anapamu St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone: 211