Southern California environment news and trends

New smartphone app locates the cleanest beach near you

Mercer 16745

Photo by foggydave via Flickr Creative Commons

Laguna Beach in Orange County, California.

With Memorial Day heralding the unofficial start of the summer season, thoughts can quickly begin to turn towards the beach. While California boasts an abundance of shoreline, not all of it is always equal. Thanks to a new free smartphone application from WaterKeeper Alliance, finding the ideal beach at any given time — and one with better environmental conditions —is just a few taps away.

The application, called the Swim Guide, uses regularly updated water quality monitoring info from government authorities like the Ocean Water Protection Program to determine what exactly is going on at more than 300 beaches across California. Orange County Coastkeeper provided the basic information for the region.

“One of the main benefits of the app is that you can really discover new beaches, which is big one for me personally,” said Pamela Crouch, the director of communications and marketing for Orange County Coastkeeper by telephone. “It’s a really extensive guide to California beaches, and you can use it to find a secluded stretch you’ve never seen before, or one with a less congested route.


Surfrider and Groupon partner on California water quality testing

elfidomx/Flickr/Creative Commons

It was announced this week that popular online coupon site Groupon has joined forces with the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation to raise money for water quality testing at local California beaches.

The campaign, which runs this week through Earth Day (Sunday, April 22), is soliciting $7 pledges through Groupon Grassroots, the recently launched philanthropic arm of the company. For each $7 donation, the Surfrider Foundation will be able to pay for one water quality test. Citing National Resources Defense Council statistics on the pledge site, there were more than 24,000 beach closings and advisories in the United States in 2010. To date, more that 120 donations have been made to the initiative,

“We are excited to employ the collective action model of Groupon Grassroots to raise support for the Surfrider Foundation’s water quality monitoring,” said Alexis Henry, Surfrider Foundation’s communications manager in a press release.  “We look forward to creating new awareness for the Surfrider Foundation as one of the local organizations in Los Angeles to be featured on Groupon Grassroots.”