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Water Quality

Are our beaches safe for swimming, surfing, and other activities? This is a central concern to Southern California beachgoers. Microbial contaminants such as bacteria and viruses reach coastal water through leaky sewer and septic systems, river mouths, and a storm drain system that transports bacteria and viruses washed off the streets from rainwater or irrigation. Although not all types of bacteria and viruses are threats to human health, those that are pathogenic can cause illnesses such as diarrhea and ear and respiratory infection, among others. Beach tourism plays a critical role in the state's economy, with an estimated 14.6 million international visitors and 352 million domestic visitors statewide. Ensuring that the water is safe for recreation as well as food harvesting is therefore a priority for the state and for Southern California. USC Sea Grant works with researchers, county and city officials, resource managers, and the public through education programs to help improve the water quality in Southern California.

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General Water Quality
Water pollution problems in the Los Angeles region can be severe. Not only is public health at risk but also the health of marine ecosystems because intense urban development, runoff from streets and surfaces transports...more
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Toxicology
It is well documented that many California coastal environments are contaminated, such as industrialized and developed shorelines, ports and marinas, and in regions around wastewater treatment plant outfalls. Potential hazards...more