Southland to launch rapid testing of beach water

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David McNew/Getty Images

Nichole Canori (L) and Patrick Woodard sunbathe near a sign that warns beach-goers to stay out of the water, which was polluted by run-off from a nearby storm drain and creek, at Will Rogers State Beach on May 22, 2009 in Pacific Palisades, California.

Southern California is poised to launch rapid testing of coastal waters this summer at nine popular beaches and post health warnings if there's contamination.

It normally takes up to four days for water samples to be analyzed for pathogens that can cause illness to swimmers and surfers.

Researchers will monitor nine Orange County beaches using a rapid detection method that tests ocean water for bacteria that indicate the presence of sewage. Local health departments can issue same-day warnings if tests show polluted water.

Beach communities across the country are closely watching the experiment.

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