Saturday, March 17 , 2018, 11:36 am | Fair 57º


Kids Speaking Up: Swimming with Sewage?

What's in the water sure takes the fun out of going to the beach.

I love natural bodies of water. I thrive in cool, flowing rivers, lakes and oceans. That is why I have always felt fortunate to live on the beautiful coast of Santa Barbara, with some of the most astonishing beaches in the world. But it was not until I came back from a trip to Easter Island a year ago, that it dawned on me how slough-like and filthy our beaches are.

Sophie D'Arcy
Sophie D’Arcy
For the longest time, I had dismissed the greenish-brown color of the ocean as fairly normal; I didn’t want an insignificant detail like that to keep me from enjoying my time at the beach. It was only until recently that I started to wonder exactly what is in the water. After doing some basic research, I found that our Santa Barbara beaches are highly contaminated with harmful and vile bacteria. So much in fact, that, according to Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, there were “145 beach closure or advisory days at Santa Barbara County beaches in 2007.” This may be due to the already 20 sewage spills in Santa Barbara in 2008. This also may be due to contamination by raw sewage, which includes “microbes that cause everything from sinus, ear and stomach infections to cholera, hepatitis, and dysentery,” according to Channelkeeper.

Is it just me, or is there something seriously wrong with this picture? As a citizen of Santa Barbara County, as well as a fun-loving, beach-going teenager, I am ardently concerned with these facts. How can one feel safe swimming in these tainted waters? How am I expected to give up my love of swimming at these beaches? By polluting the ocean with sewage and other harmful chemicals and not taking action, we are not only harming our environment, but ruining our own livelihood as a community and the livelihoods of future generations on the Santa Barbara coast.

I urge you to contact the Santa Barbara City Council. While they have worked with local organizations, such as Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, to help fix the deteriorating sewage systems, there is certainly more the City Council can order repaired.

Dos Pueblos High freshman Sophie D’Arcy is co-founder of Kids Speaking Up, a local group working to educate youth on social, national and political issues and inspire them to write.

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