Heal the Bay: LA County has 7 of California's 10 worst beaches

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After 22 years, the spots that earn failing grades in Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card are starting to sound familiar. Still, some of the most polluted beaches may be turning things around.


View Heal the Bay's Top 10 Beach Bummers in a larger map

The beach at Avalon Harbor has made Heal the Bay’s "Top Ten Beach Bummers” list for more than a decade thanks to ancient clay and metal pipes in the Catalina Island city sewage system.

Regional water regulators slapped Avalon with a new enforcement order this year and the city is now stepping up the fixes, according to Heal the Bay’s Kirsten James.

"This puts Avalon on the track for capital improvements that are going to clean up the beach," James said. "And it’s also exciting because Avalon officials are supporting this effort and are being proactive on moving this forward."

Four beaches in Malibu continue to appear on Heal the Bay’s most polluted list. James pointed out that they’re near properties connected to septic tanks. Statewide regulators plan to adopt tighter rules on septic tanks next month, she said.

"Heal the Bay has long advocated for a centralized wastewater treatment facility in the civic center of Malibu to help with the chronic problems at Surfrider Beach," James said.

Beyond the Bummer list, Long Beach spots are scoring higher in dry weather. The drier winter and the construction of new facilities to filter stormwater have helped to nudge up L.A. County’s report card scores, according to James.

L.A. Sanitation Director Enrique Zaldivar said he expects another boost from low-impact development principles that keep stormwater on a property, or treat it before it hits drains and goes to the sea.

"We still have a challenge in wet weather," he said. "We recognize that. We just gotta figure out a way to address the quality of the water in a rain event."

As for your beaches in Ventura and Orange counties: the Beach Report Card suggests that you’re good to go all summer long.

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