Ten of the 13 beaches in Long Beach have received a rating of "B" or better on their end of summer report card, a vast improvement from their ratings six years ago. An 8.5 million dollar project launched last summer as well as other citywide projects have helped to improve the quality of the beaches. Hetty Chang reports from Long Beach for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Sept. 2, 2013.
Those celebrating Labor Day at a Los Angeles County beach might notice it's cleaner this year - particularly in Long Beach.
Since Memorial Day, 90 percent of LA County beaches received A and B grades, up 3 percent from last summer, according to a recent report from Heal the Bay. The non-profit grades 450 beaches along the California Coast based on levels of bacterial pollution in the water.
One area of major improvement is Long Beach, where 12 beaches received A's, two beaches received B's and one received a D. In 2007, just 12 percent of the city's beaches received an A or B rating, according to city officials.
On this Labor Day, NBC4 caught up with beach-goers who have noticed the difference.
"It just feels better, it's not really dirty anymore," said Frances Tovar, who was finding seashells with her family at Colorado Lagoon.
"Look how pretty, and see, when we pour the water, look how clear the water is," said Natasha Patterson, another beach-goer. "This is the reason we're at this beach today.
Long Beach's Colorado Lagoon was on Heal the Bay's "Beach Bummer" list several years ago. It now has an A-plus rating, in large part because of an $8.5 million restoration project there last summer.
"What they're doing is they've taken the bulls by the horns and they've taken ownership," said Amanda Griesbach, water quality scientist for Heal the Bay. "They've also retrofitted some of their storm drains so it captures trash and filters some of that urban runoff."
Long Beach and 15 upriver cities have installed approximately 12,000 trash-capturing devices in regional storm drains. This Labor Day, environmentalists and beach-goers have noticed the difference.
"It felt really fresh," said Leah Garcia.