Health warnings were issued for three South Coast Beaches where high levels of bacteria were found in the water earlier this week, and officials say high tides are to blame.

The Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services department’s Beach Status Report issued on Jan. 13 indicated high levels of bacteria in the waters near Arroyo Burro Beach, Hope Ranch Beach and Leadbetter Beach.

The increased bacteria levels are likely the result of unusually high tides, said Environmental Health Services Director Larry Fay. 

The report warned visitors to stay at least 50 yards from “creek mouths and/or storm drains.”

“It is not unusual to identify different levels [of bacteria] at different times of the year,” Fay said. “We can’t always identify the source.”

High bacteria levels are often due to rain run-off; however, this is currently not the case, he said.

This week’s high levels of bacteria are attributed to unusually high tides, which have swept contaminates from the beach into the water.

Water sampling results are updated weekly and can be found here.

Noozhawk intern Allyson Werner can be reached at awerner@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.