Health Risks to People Swimming Near Storm Drains
Illnesses listed below generally are associated with swimming in water contaminated with urban runoff:
  • Earaches
  • Sinus Problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Rashes
Electron micrograph of bacteria (large spheres) and marine viruses (small spheres) from water collected from near a flowing beach storm drain.

Most of these are natural marine viruses, but some may cause illnesses in swimmers.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Rachel Noble

In 1992, the Santa Monica Restoration Bay Project published a finding titled, An Epidermiological Study of Possible Adverse Health Effects of Swimming in Santa Monica Bay which concluded that recreational activity (e.g. swimming, surfing, etc.) near storm drain flows caused illnesses.