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California beach water quality improved in summer 2012, but group worried about funding cuts for testing bacterial levels.
An environmental group says summer 2012 was one of the best for California beach water quality.
Heal the Bay says 2012 is the sixth year in a row state beaches from Humboldt to San Diego county had excellent water quality.
The beach report assigns letter grades for water quality at 446 beaches. The water was tested between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Heal the Bay says 96 percent of sampled sites were given A or B grades, a 4% improvement from last year.
The better the grade a location received, the lower the risk of illness to beach users from bacteria.
In Los Angeles County, 77 beaches earned A and B grades for water quality. But Avalon Beach on Catalina Island made Heal the Bay’s “Beach Bummers” list of the 10 most polluted beaches.
Two additional L.A. County sites received poor water quality grades: the Malibu Pier (50 yards east) and inner Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.
Overall, Santa Monica Bay beaches continued to improve last summer.
And, in Orange County, 93-percent of beaches received A grades for water quality.
Despite the improved water quality, Heal the Bay is worried about two recent proposals from the U.S. EPA to change acceptable bacteria levels in recreational waters. The group says the proposed changes would expose ocean swimmers to unacceptable health risks that cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
Heal the Bay also says proposed USEPA budget cuts for 2013 eliminate all BEACH Act grant funding, jeopardizing beach water quality monitoring programs throughout the U.S.