Officials in Orange and San Diego counties Wednesday warned residents to steer clear of the ocean as a double whammy of rain runoff and sewage contamination hit beaches along the Southern California coast.
In Newport Bay, Orange County environmental health officials closed the dock areas at Balboa Bay Club due to a sewage spill.
Separately, warnings were posted for other beaches where rain runoff has caused bacterial levels to rise beyond acceptable health limits. This includes five areas in Newport Bay; in Laguna Beach, 150 feet upcoast and downcoast of Aliso Creek at Aliso County Beach; and in Dana Point, from the Dana Point Harbor breakwater to 300 feet downcoast at Doheny State Beach.
In southern San Diego County, polluted runoff from the Tijuana River forced closure of the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field Park.
Also, surfers and swimmers were warned to stay away from all ocean beaches for at least 72 hours after the rainstorm is finished. Signs are posted at some beaches: "Keep Out. Sewage Contaminated Water. Exposure May Cause Illness."
County environmental health officials will test for elevated bacterial levels before declaring the areas safe.
California's severe drought has had one thin silver lining for its beaches: cleaner water, according to the annual Beach Report Card released by environmental advocacy group Heal the Bay.
But as long-awaited rain pelts the drought-stricken Southland, its clean water grade may be taking a dip.