If you’re planning a beach visit this Memorial Day weekend, you might be curious to know whether the water’s really fine. The environmental group Heal the Bay has released its 20th annual beach report card. It based results on the levels of harmful bacteria in the surf zone.
Heal the Bay ranked more than 450 beaches in California during the summer, based on dangerous pollutants. Overall, Southern California did pretty well – 86 percent of beaches earned an “A” grade during dry weather.
Los Angeles County hovered around 70 percent of beaches that aced the test. That was the county’s best performance in over ten years. Santa Monica Beach scored high with a perfect grade. It’s listed on the group’s Honor Roll.
But the story’s different a little farther south - at the Santa Monica Pier. The beach there received an “F.” Heal The Bay president Mark Gold says extra improvements could boost that grade.
“Good news there is that things are on the rise there,” Gold said. “They’ve put in a brand new storm drain diversion system. They also put nets underneath the pier and we’re starting to see good grades there for the last two or three months.”
Gold wasn’t as optimistic about Avalon. The beach on beautiful Catalina Island took the top spot for flunking the water quality test on the 2009-2010 report card.
“The reason why is that they have a decaying sewer infrastructure that’s going to cost them about $30 million to repair. With such a small city, they don’t have the revenues to do that adequately. People swimming in Avalon are often swimming in sewer contaminated beach.”
Other L.A. County beaches on the so-called “Beach Bummer” list include Cabrillo Beach harborside in San Pedro, Cowell Beach at the wharf in Santa Cruz County, Poche Beach in Orange County, Colorado Lagoon in Los Angeles County, Baker Beach at Lobos Creek in San Francisco County
Capitola Beach - west of the jetty in Santa Cruz County, Vacation Isle North Cove Beach in Mission Bay of San Diego County and Sunset Blvd. and PCH at Santa Ynez Drain in Los Angeles County.
Heal the Bay officials say new infrastructure projects helped improve beaches by catching polluted runoff before it hits the ocean.