Report: California Beach Water Quality Improving

Annual end-of-summer ranking gives an "A" or "B" to 96 percent of California beaches

By Melissa Pamer
|  Thursday, Sep 27, 2012  |  Updated 9:33 AM PDT
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Most Polluted SoCal Beaches

Joy Aoki/Heal the Bay

Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro received an "F" on Heal the Bay's annual 2012 End of Summer Beach Report Card, but most coastal areas in California saw improving or excellent water quality.

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During the steamy summer of 2012, Californians who headed to the beach were able to enjoy largely excellent water quality, according to an annual study released by Santa Monica-based Heal the Bay.

The advocacy group's End of Summer Beach Report Card graded 96 percent of the state's beaches with a "A" or "B," marking a 4 percent uptick from last year.

It was one of the cleanest summers for beach water quality ever recorded.

In Los Angeles County, which has long been home to most of the state's dirtiest beaches, water quality improved by 2 percent, with 77 beaches earning an "A" or "B."

All monitoring spots at Avalon Beach on Catalina Island, regularly one of the top-most polluted beaches in the state, earned an "F." So did Malibu Pier, where the source of pollution remains a mystery, and the Walnut Creek outlet southwest of Paradise Cove in Malibu.

Perpetually polluted Inner Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro also got an "F," as did several locations in Long Beach.

With the exception of Poche Beach in San Clemente, water quality in Orange and Ventura counties was excellent. The latter received an "A" at each of its beaches.

But all was not well along the Golden State's coast, Heal the Bay warned.

That's because the nonprofit group was worried about two federal proposal that could have a "devastating effect on beach water quality programs throughout the entire country," according to the report.

The Obama administration has proposed a budget for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that eliminates funding for grants that pay for beach monitoring, according to Heal the Bay. The proposed cuts would primarily affect county beach programs in Northern California.

At the same time, Heal the Bay criticizes the EPA's new proposed limits on bacteria in recreational waters, saying they are "far less protective of the public health of swimmers than current science and good public policy dictate."

Among other deficiencies that the advocacy group named, Heal the Bay argued that EPA did not include the latest science – including studies done at Santa Monica Bay and Doheny Beach – to develop the new criteria.

The report (PDF) was released Tuesday. Beach grades are available at beachreportcard.org, where apps for iPhones and Android phones can be found as well.

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