Nine of California's most polluted beaches in 2008 were in Southern California, with Avalon beach on Catalina Island ranking among the worst in a report released Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Other beaches earning poor ratings in the "Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches'' study, were Newport Bay-Vaughns Launch; Doheny State Beach-Surfzone; Cabrillo Beach; Doheny State Beach -- 250 feet south of San Juan Creek; Doheny State Beach-North Beach; Santa Monica Beach at the pier; and Malibu Beach-Paradise Cove.
"Many Californians were sickened or became ill after going to polluted beaches last year,'' said Michelle Mehta, an attorney for NRDC's Water Program. "The problem of beachwater pollution has not improved and millions of people visiting California's world-renowned beaches continue to be at risk.''
The NRDC's report is based on data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
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According to the report:
There were 4,133 closing or advisory days at California beaches in 2008, a 13 percent decrease from 2007. Of those days, 81 percent were from unknown contamination sources, 3 percent were from storm water runoff, 9 percent from sewage spills/leaks and 6 percent from other sources.
Several California beaches earned positive five-star ratings in the report, including several locations at Laguna Beach, Bolsa Chica State Beach and Newport Beach.
Los Angeles County beaches had the highest percentage -- 20 percent -- of water samples that exceeded the state's daily maximum bacterial standards in 2008, according to the report. Orange County placed fifth on the list at 9 percent.