Ocean Beach posted for swim ban due to high bacteria levels

No-swimming sign at Ocean Beach

No-swimming signs have been posted at Ocean Beach due to high levels of bacteria in the water. Photo: Tom Prete / Ocean Beach Bulletin

UPDATE 2:28 p.m. March 28: As of 2:01 p.m. Monday, March 28, the City has lifted the ban on swimming and other water contact at Ocean Beach because tests indicate that bacteria counts have fallen. The City has lifted water-contact bans and warnings at all other beaches in San Francisco as well.


Officials have posted no-swimming signs at OceanĀ  Beach due to tests indicating high bacteria levels in the water.

According the the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission website, no-swimming signs are posted at several locations along the beach, from the Kelly’s Cove area near the Cliff House south to Fort Funston.

The city was scheduled to re-test water at the beach Friday, but the beach was still posted on Saturday morning.

Several “combined sewer discharges” occurred at the beach Thursday, according to the SFPUC’s water-quality hotline. This means that water that has not been fully treated has been released into the ocean.

San Francisco’s system sends both sewer waste and stormwater runoff into a combined system for treatment. Sometimes water enters the treatment system faster than it can be processed. On the west side of the city, this extra water is stored in large concrete boxes under the Great Highway.

But during periods of exceptionally heavy rain the system can receive a volume of water that is greater than the storage boxes can hold and that comes in faster than treatment systems can process it. In this case, water is processed to a lower standard before it is released.

According to the SFPUC, even when the combined sewer system is overwhelmed by heavy rain no raw sewage is discharged.

More information about San Francisco’s system for monitoring beach water quality is available at the SFPUC website. The SFPUC also maps beach closures and advisories, and provides the raw data it gathers from water samples. Information about specific closures and postings is available by telephone at (877) 732-3224.

Water quality map San Francisco

San Francisco has posted several locations on Ocean Beach for high bacteria levels. Image: screen capture from SFPUC


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  1. Where can I found out more about how exactly water is “processed to a lower standard” before it is released?

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