Ocean Water Quality

City of Ventura’s five miles of coastal access provide ideal locations for recreational activities such as sunbathing, volleyball, fishing, swimming, surfing, etc. Thousands of people flock to the City of Ventura to visit the beach, walk or ride their bikes along coastal paths and enjoy our many special events. Making sure our coastal waters are safe to recreate in and around is important for the health and safety of our residents and visitors.

In September 1998, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors directed the Ventura County Environmental Health Division to develop a program to monitor the bacteriological quality of ocean water at Ventura County beaches. The Ocean Water Quality Monitoring Program was developed with the primary purpose of providing the public with accurate and timely information about the bacteriological quality of ocean water. The purpose of the program is to assure the protection of human and environmental health through routine monitoring of coastal marine waters and by providing information to the public about the quality of these waters. The City of Ventura does not directly conduct ocean water quality monitoring. Ventura County Environmental Health Divisions conducts weekly beach water quality monitoring at 40 beaches countywide, 11 of which are in City of Ventura’s jurisdiction.

City of Ventura beaches monitored by Ventura County Environmental Health Division’s Ocean Water Quality Program are:

  • Surfer’s Point at Seaside - Across from Handicap Footpath,
  • Promenade Park - Figueroa Street,
  • Promenade Park - Paseo De Playa Street,
  • Promenade Park - California Street at Drain,
  • San Buenaventura State Beach - Kalorama Street,
  • San Buenaventura State Beach - San Jon Road South of Drain,
  • San Buenaventura State Beach - Dover Lane,
  • San Buenaventura State Beach - Weymouth Lane,
  • Marina Park Beach - Across from Playground,
  • Peninsula Beach - Harbor Cove, and
  • Surfers’ Knoll - Out from Parking Lot.  

What are the Ocean Waters Tested For?

Ocean waters are analyzed for "indicator bacteria" (total coliform, fecal coliform and enterococcus) that indicate the possible presence of disease causing bacteria, viruses or protozoa. Sample results are compared to State Standards for ocean water quality. If ocean water quality does not meet State Standards at a beach, this beach will be posted with signs warning the public to avoid body contact with the affected ocean water. The warning stays in effect until resampling indicates the ocean water meets State Standards and at that time, the signs will be removed. Information regarding ocean water quality is provided to the public via telephone hotline (805) 662-6555, press releases, website, and signs posted at the beach. The beach itself can still be used for picnics, sunbathing, etc. when warning signs are posted advising the public to avoid contact with ocean water.

What are State Bacteria Water Quality Standards?

Single sample standards:

  • Total Coliforms - 10,000 organisms/100 milliliter (ml) sample
  • Fecal Coliforms - 400 organisms/100 ml. sample
  • Enterococci - 104 organisms/100 ml. sample
  • Fecal: Total ratio - >1,000 total coliforms if ratio exceeds 0.1

30 - day log mean standards (of five weekly samples):

  • Total Coliforms - 1,000 organisms/100 ml. sample
  • Fecal Coliforms - 200 organisms/100 ml. sample
  • Enterococci - 35 organisms/100 ml. sample

Where is it Safe to Swim?

Ventura County beaches have very good water quality year-round. It is safe to swim at these beaches unless warning signs to avoid water contact recreation are posted at the beach. Occasionally, stormwater or non-stormwater runoff, animal or human contamination, and/or sewage spills may cause unsafe levels of bacteria in the ocean waters. In the event this occurs, warning signs will be posted along the affected beach areas.

To get the most up-to-date ocean water quality results you can visit the Ventura County Environmental Health Divisions beach water quality interactive map (Desktop) (Smartphone).

You can also download the VC SafeBeaches smartphone app. The app is a quick and easy way to view the latest ocean water quality testing results for your favorite beaches in Ventura County.

Tips to Stay Safe in and around the Ocean

Wait 72 hours after a storm before going in the ocean. California Department of Health Services recommends avoiding all ocean water contact during a storm and waiting at least 72 hours (3 days) after it has stopped raining before going into the ocean.

Don’t swim near storm drains. Swim at least 100 yards away from where the storm drain enters the surf. You are twice as likely to get sick if you swim in front of a flowing storm drain due to increased bacteria concentrations from urban runoff.

Avoid puddles and ponded water. Shallow puddles of water on the sand between a storm drain and the surf may appear safe, warm and inviting for children, but this water is urban runoff, possibly containing bacteria that can cause illness. Although there may not always be warning signs surrounding puddles of urban runoff, this water is never safe for swimming.

What Can I do to Help?

  • Properly dispose of animal waste and residential trash in waste bins
  • Use a "doggie bag" when walking pets
  • Pick up after your cat(s) and dog(s)
  • Use a broom rather than a hose to clean driveways, sidewalks, trash enclosures
  • Control irrigation flows to minimize runoff
  • Properly dispose of household paints, chemicals and motor oil
  • Never pour chemicals on the ground or down storm drains
  • Don’t feed wild birds or animals. Their droppings can significantly increase bacteria levels in the ocean

Need More Information?

Please visit Ventura County Environmental Health Divisions Ocean Water Quality Monitoring Program webpage for more information.