Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

New smartphone app locates the cleanest beach near you

Laguna Beach in Orange County, California.
Laguna Beach in Orange County, California.
Photo by foggydave via Flickr Creative Commons

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.

“It’s also a great tool for the general public, who isn’t always aware of changing conditions in local waters,” she continued. “This way, if there are higher bacteria levels or urban runoff at a certain location, the user can easily see that and find a spot even just 500 yards away with better conditions.”

Provided and managed by the extensive WaterKeeper Alliance with more than 200 local water protection organizations worldwide, the Swim Guide maximizes those connections to be as hyper-local and detailed as possible.

“All of the California Coastkeepers worked specifically to maintain a local, regional feel to the guide,” added Crouch. “Each one knows their specific beaches intimately, and that knowledge is a large and important part of the Swim Guide.”