Summer has arrived and with temperatures expected to hit triple digits for the inland areas, millions of people are going to escape to the beaches to cool off and enjoy themselves by the coast.
Each week, over 500 beaches on the west coast are graded A to F based on bacteria analysis. I tend to go swimming in the ocean several times a month during summer but before I go, I always check the water quality grades.
Generally speaking, the water is clean when it hasn’t rained for a long time. Whenever it rains, the rivers, creeks and storm drains flow into the ocean causing an influx of bacteria and pollution. Luckily for us, rain is more so on the rare side in the Southern California during the hottest months but it’s still very important to check the grades.
Beach Water Quality Reports
Heal The Bay: Beach Report Card: Provides a nice map of all the water quality grades on the west coast including California, Oregon and Washington. They get their information from other agencies such as the ones below and provide the most comprehensive analysis all in one spot.
LA County Dept of Public Health: Beach Advisories: This is an excellent resource for LA beach goers.
Note: LA county purposely collects its samples directly in front of storm drains, sewage treatment plants and creeks where most of the pollution comes from. That is why some locations may show bad grades while nearby ones may show A+. For the record: Avalon bay of Catalina Island has never showed higher than an F for the two years I’ve viewed this list. I will never touch the water there.
San Diego Coastkeeper: Beach Status: A very nice resource for folks in SD.
Orange County Beach Info: OC’s monitoring agencies are woefully inadequate relative to LA. They deceptively claim to have some of the best beach water but that is only because they have cut out dozens of beaches from being regularly sampled over the years due to budget cuts. Also more importantly, their grades are artificially boosted because they purposely take their samples some 25-80 yards away from polluted run off sources unlike Los Angeles that does it directly. Unfortunately their website doesn’t even provide grades or report cards, but rather only advisories and closures, if there are any.
Well anyway, I hope that helps and if you would like to read more, I would recommend you check out Heal The Bay’s 2010-2011 Annual Report Card (PDF) that provides a comprehensive analysis on the beach water quality for the west coast with emphasis on Southern California.