February 21, 2019
Report: Some beaches healing while others fall ill
SANTA MONICA – (INT) – Heal the Bay is out with its annual report on water quality at California’s major beaches and it’s generally positive.

Southern California’s recent swing back to drought-like conditions actually improved beach water quality. With less rain, bacterial pollution at local beaches dipped dramatically in 2017-18.

Some 95% of the beaches monitored in Southern California earned ‘A’ grades during the busy summer season, a 5% uptick from the reporting period’s five-year average.

Beach by beach

In L.A. County, Heal the Bay scientists assigned A-to-F letter grades to 94 beaches for three reporting periods in the 2017-18 report, based on levels of weekly bacterial pollution measured by county health agencies. Ninety-seven percent of beaches received A or B grades for the high-traffic summer period.

Orange County’s 121 monitored beaches notched ‘A’ grades in summer dry weather in this year’s report, while Ventura’s 40 monitored beaches scored a perfect 100% for the eighth consecutive year. San Diego County also scored top summer marks, with 100% of 69 monitored sites receiving A or B grades. But its wet-weather grades fell significantly below the five-year average. Santa Barbara County’s 16 monitored beaches also earned 100% A or B grades in the summer, but half of them earned D or F grades in the winter rainy season.

Beach bummers

This list ranks the 10 most polluted beaches in the state:

No. 1- Poche Beach at ocean outlet, San Clemente This O.C. site is the single most polluted beach in the state, according to the report. It’s a “point zero” site, meaning weekly samples are taken directly where a stream, creek or stormdrain discharges to the sea. Elevated pollution from Poche Creek is no doubt leading to bacterial exceedances.

No. 7 – Santa Monica Pier Moist conditions, flocks of birds and stormdrain runoff are likely culprits. Construction has begun on a 1.6-million gallon stormwater storage tank that should help.

No. 9 – Cabrillo Beach, harbor side, San Pedro This site returns to the Bummer List after a two year absence. Lack of circulation means unsafe levels of bacteria. The County continues to fine-tune a circulation device and bird deterrents.

Several other Southern California beaches received annual grades of ‘C’ for bacterial exceedances, warranting caution. These hot spots include Monarch Beach in Orange County, San Clemente Pier in Orange County and Topanga State Beach in Los Angeles County. On the positive side, several SoCal beaches named as 2016-17 Beach Bummers fell off this year’s list of the most-polluted beaches in the state. Among those showing marked improvement: La Jolla Cove in San Diego and historically troubled Mother’s Beach in Marina Del Rey.

Story Date: June 26, 2018
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