Rain storms that drenched Southern California this month have apparently flushed trash and litter out of storm drains and rivers — and left loads of debris on ocean beaches instead.
Sneakers, soiled diapers, strollers, needles and an Iron Man mask were just a few of the discarded items to wash ashore on Orange County beaches in recent days, photos show. A couch even appeared on Seal Beach, where Orange County meets Los Angeles County.
“We had people who surfed out here sitting on the couch … just making a joke out of it,” Tony Soriano of the local Surfrider Foundation — which works to clean up the beach — told KTLA.
Storm drains carrying water into the San Gabriel River push the debris into the ocean, where it then flows to the shore, according to the TV station. Heavy rains in Southern California have caused mudslides, flooding and sinkholes in the last several days as well.
“I’ve seen trash on the beach lots of times, but nothing like this,” Ric Johnson told CBSLA as he stood on Seal Beach. “This is, like, orders of magnitude worse than I’ve ever seen.”
Traffic cones, suitcases, bike tires and toys also appeared on the beach, CBS reports.
“I’m almost in tears, honestly,” Matt Cool told CBS as he stood on the beach. “It’s about to make me sick to my stomach.”
NBC Los Angeles described the beach’s new landfill-like appearance as “part of a familiar cycle. The trash left upstream is captured by runoff from inland cities — and it has to go somewhere.”
Seal Beach resident Jamison Delfino told KTLA it’s not an uncommon sight: “Every time it rains there’s just tons and tons of trash … anything you can think of,” she said.
Neighboring Los Angeles County is no better: Every year, trash nets positioned in the Los Angeles River and Ballona Creek catch roughly 200 tons of garbage, and the Los Angeles flood channel alone “has enough trash to fill the Rose Bowl field two stories deep,” according to the county’s public works department.
Los Angeles beachgoers have been warned by public health officials to avoid surfing, swimming and even playing in ocean waters until Wednesday morning.
Beaches across the Orange County coast — south and east of Los Angeles — were listed as having bacteria levels that “exceed state health standards and may cause illness” by county health officials.
“It was horrifying, that’s the only way I could explain it,” said Trish Gussler, who visited Seal Beach to see birds, according to the Orange County Resgister. “It was phenomenally sad.”