Once again, Seal Beach earned the top grade in the annual Heal the Bay's annual report card of water quality on the West Coast, and 94 percent of all local beaches earned A or B grades.
“That’s great news for beach-goers this summer,” said Kirsten James, water quality director at Heal the Bay.
Thirteen O.C. beaches—including Seal Beach, Surfside Beach, Sunset Beach and Newport Beach—were placed on the "honor roll" for scoring A grades every week of the report's three time periods.
However, two South County beaches earned failing grades and made the environmental group's Beach Bummer list: Doheny State Beach at San Juan Creek Outlet (No. 7) and Poche Beach in San Clemente (No. 8). Poche has notoriously appeared on the list every year since at least 2007. Despite the construction of a runoff treatment facility there, bacteria levels continued to exceed state standards, Heal the Bay said.
During the rainy season, water quality countywide was poor, with just 69 percent of O.C. beaches earning A or B grades. In the winter, a greater volume of stormwater runoff gushes into the ocean, so Heal the Bay recommends no one swim during, and for at least three days after, a significant rainstorm.
The Annual Beach Report Card grades more than 650 locations from San Diego County to Whatcom County, Wash., in the summer dry weather and more than 300 locations year-round. Beaches that earn As and Bs pose less of a health risk to swimmers, who can come down with stomach flu, ear infections and skin rashes when water quality is poor.
All county health departments are required to test beach water quality samples for three types of bacteria at least once a week during the summer. Heal the Bay compiles the data, analyzes it and assigns the letter grades.
The organization said Orange County, like most other counties in the state, scores higher grades than Los Angeles and Ventura, because its monitoring agency collects samples at least 25 yard or more away from drains and creeks that flow into the ocean.
Monitoring at “point zero” locations, where polluted runoff often pools or meets the ocean, is the best way to ensure that real risks to swimmers are captured in water quality data, according to Heal the Bay.
Statewide, beaches saw improvement since last year with 407 of 441 California beaches earning A and B grades.
“Throughout the state this year, beaches during dry weather are generally very clean, " James said.
For more information, visit www.beachreportcard.org