For the seventh consecutive summer, California beachgoers experienced excellent water quality overall, according to the 2013 End of Summer Beach Report Card released Aug. 29 by the Santa Monica-based environmental group Heal the Bay.
In its water quality survey, Heal the Bay assigned an A-to-F letter grade to 450 beaches along the California coast based on levels of bacterial pollution reported weekly from Memorial Day to Aug. 21. This summer, 96 percent of sites earned A or B grades, the same percentage as in last year’s seasonal report.
Heal the Bay officials note that the completion of dozens of infrastructure improvements to divert and/or treat polluted runoff has played a major role in improving beach water quality during the past 10 years.
But some 14 beaches statewide scored D or F grades in this summer’s report. Los Angeles County, which historically has the worst water quality in the state, and San Mateo County accounted for the majority of the D and F grades.
The worse grade a location receives, the greater the risk of such serious illness as stomach flu, ear infections, upper respiratory infections and skin rashes.
While the beach at the Santa Monica Pier had 33 exeedance counts of total daily maximum loads and Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey had 21, various points at Venice Beach, Santa Monica State Beach and Marina “Mothers” Beach in Marina del Rey had some of the fewest. Known as TDML, the water quality measurement is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive and still safely meet water quality standards
Los Angeles County continued to see improvement in its summer beach water quality. Some 80 out of 89 (90 percent) beaches received A or B grades, a 3 percent uptick from last year.
However, Heal the Bay officials believe that proposed funding cuts by the United States Environmental Protection Agency may have a damaging effect on water quality monitoring programs in California and throughout the nation. The agency proposes to eliminate nearly $10 million in funding used to help states conduct regular beach water quality monitoring and notifications, Heal the Bay officials said.
“Americans rely on water quality monitoring and reporting to ensure that the water we swim, surf and play in is safe,” said Amanda Griesbach, a Heal the Bay water quality scientist who authored this year’s report. “The public deserves to know that the water is safe when they go to the beach.”