Los Angeles County beaches continue to demonstrate improved summertime water quality, according to Heal the Bay’s 23rd annual Beach Report Card, which the Santa Monica environmental group released May 23.
Seven beaches in Los Angeles County were placed on Heal the Bay’s “Honor Roll,” meaning they scored perfect A+ grades for the report’s three time periods.
The organization assigns A-to-F letter grades to 89 beaches in the county based on levels of weekly bacterial pollution. Approximately 84 percent of beaches received A or B grades for the summer period, an increase of 2 percent from last year and nearly 10 percent from two years ago, Heal the Bay officials said.
Local beaches in Santa Monica, Venice and Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey all posted A+ grades during the dry season at various locations, while Santa Monica Beach received a B at the Pico/Kenter storm drain at the end of Pico Boulevard.
Marina Beach, known to local residents as “Mothers Beach” in Marina del Rey posted A grades except between the dock and the lifeguard tower, where it received a D grade.
“We are heartened by numerous individual beach success stories, but extremely dry weather is likely masking the severity of stormwater pollution,” said Kirsten James, Heal the Bay’s science and policy director for water quality. “Heal the Bay will be focusing efforts on implementation of a new regional stormwater permit to address this critical beach water quality issue.”
The county also is home to four of the 10 beaches listed on Heal the Bay’s annual “Beach Bummer” list, which ranks the most polluted beaches in the state. Avalon Beach in Catalina once again tops this year’s list.
The improvement in Los Angeles beach water quality during all three phases of the study’s 2012-13 reporting period can be attributed to several factors. Dry weather in Southern California played a significant role in improved winter beach water quality in Los Angeles County, Heal the Bay officials noted.
Winter dry water quality was good, with 86 percent of beaches earning an A or B grade –18 percent higher than the county’s five-year average. And wet weather grades were 23 percent higher than in the previous report, with 57 percent earning A or B grades – 24 percent above the county’s five-year average, officials noted.
Infrastructure improvements aimed at curbing bacterial pollution have also yielded results, but two years of very low rainfall also led to improved grades, said a Heal the Bay spokeswoman.
Despite the improvements, Los Angeles County continues to have the greatest number of beaches with poor water quality grades of any county in the state, according to Heal the Bay. During the busy summer, 8 percent of beaches received D or F grades, while that figure rises to nearly 30 percent in wet weather.
Santa Monica Beach posted poor grades during wet weather at three drainage sites. Santa Monica Pier, which saw improvements in recent years, also had a D grade during wet weather and a C during the dry season.
Under rainy conditions, Dockweiler had failing grades at drains at Culver Boulevard, Ballona Creek and Imperial Highway.
Heal the Bay urges beachgoers to check the latest water quality grades, based on the latest samples, each week at beachreportcard.org. Before heading to the shoreline, visitors can also access the latest grades on the go by downloading Heal the Bay’s free app for mobile devices.

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