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Bacteria warning signs

Los Angeles County is the local health department that is in charge of water monitoring in Avalon Bay. According to the State, the local health officer or the local department, may at his or its discretion close, post warning signs, or otherwise restrict use of said public beach or public water-contact sports area.

When results of the water quality tests exceed California State standards, beaches are posted with warning signs in the vicinity of the high indicator bacteria counts. These signs indicate that contact with water in the area may increase the risk of illness to a swimmer.

If follow-up tests indicate bacteria levels below the State standards, the signs are removed. If the bacterial levels are still higher, the signs remain posted on the beaches until the next week of testing.

The warning sign most often seen on Avalon Bay beaches - white bordered by red and black stripes - is posted when bacteria exceedances occur in areas not adjacent to, or influenced by, storm drains. It is to advise the public of the potential risk associated with swimming in ocean water. The beach remains open, and people swim based on their own comfort level of risk.

Additional warning signs associated with the water monitoring program:

  • A white warning sign with yellow and black stripes is used to warn people of elevated bacteria levels at, or adjacent to, the storm drain. This warning sign is posted to advise the public of the potential risk associated with swimming in ocean water contaminated by urban runoff. Signs are normally posted every 50 yards. Some municipalities or agencies post this sign indefinitely at beaches affected by perennial flow. The beach remains open to the public and people can decide whether to swim based on their own comfort level of risk.
  • A yellow "Keep Out" sign is used when there is a sewage spill or chemical discharge affecting ocean waters. This warning sign is for beaches closed due to a sewage spill. It means the water is contaminated and individuals should avoid any and all water contact. Avoid water contact where signs are posted and areas between posted signs. The beach is closed. The beach remains closed for at least 72 hours after the source has been identified, the spill ceases, and sampling results indicate compliance with state standards.