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SEAL BEACH : With or Without Signs, Pollution Awaits Surfers

After a friendly debate between an environmental group and the city over who should post signs warning of polluted surf was finally resolved--two recently posted signs were stolen.

City officials say they will replace the signs, which bear the logos of the city and the Surfrider Foundation. But local environmentalists are warning surfers to beware.

Record-setting rainstorms have caused sewers to overflow into flood-control channels, creating some of the highest pollution levels in local waters in a decade, according to Dr. Gordon Labedz, a Surfrider Foundation spokesman and associate professor of medicine at UCI Medical School.

“The water there is dangerously dirty right now,” Labedz said. “It’s a real shame because there are kids out there surfing right now.”

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City officials say the county health agency has posted temporary signs near the mouth of the San Gabriel River, where the surf is good and the waters are polluted.

Storm drains throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties dump into the river, which empties out near the Seal Beach coast.

Andy Seymour, city director of parks and recreation, said the stolen aluminum signs were bonded to half-inch plywood and attached to a fence with large bolts.

The heads of the bolts were severed by city workers to prevent them from being unscrewed.

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“Somebody worked on them for a long time,” Seymour said. “We have two backup signs, but we’re going to wait awhile before we put them up.”

Meanwhile, city officials are encouraging anyone who has seen the signs that read “Surf With Caution!” to contact Seal Beach police.

“They are pretty cool signs,” Labedz said. “They’re probably in some fraternity house by now.”


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