As residents prepare to flock to the coast for Memorial Day weekend, the environmental group Heal the Bay announced today that water quality improved dramatically over the past year at Los Angeles County beaches – a side benefit from the drought plaguing the state.
But despite the improvement brought on by the lack of polluted rain runoff, the county still leads the state in the number of beaches suffering from overall poor water quality, according to the group’s 24th annual Beach Report Card, which assigns letter grades to beaches across the state.
One in 10 Los Angeles County beaches received grades of C or worse for pollution during the 2013-14 summer period, which stretched from April through October of last year, according to the report. Three Los Angeles County beaches – Mothers Beach in Marina del Rey, Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro and the beach at the Santa Monica Pier – earned spots on Heal the Bay’s “Beach Bummer List” of the most polluted beaches in the state.
Heal the Bay looked into the cause of the bad grades at the Santa Monica Pier and found that netting had deteriorated, allowing birds to roost there, according to Kirsten James, science and policy director for water quality for Heal the Bay.
“Now that is patched up, we’re hopeful the grades will improve,” James said.
In contrast to the bummer list, eight Los Angeles County beaches landed on the group’s Honor Roll, which recognizes beaches that scored perfect A-plus grades for the report’s three time periods. Twelve beaches in Orange County were listed on the Honor Roll.
“We’ve seen marked improvements in California’s beach water quality this year due to the historically dry conditions,” James said. “However, the rains will return, and when they do, we need to capture this valuable resource to maximize our local water supplies and keep polluted water out of our ocean.”
To make sure to keep Southern California on track for improved water quality, Heal the Bay is working with municipalities to install storm water infiltration projects.
Heal the Bay officials noted that Avalon Beach, which has traditionally been ranked among one of the most polluted beaches in the state, dropped off of the Beach Bummer List this year, thanks to a series of efforts to improve water quality, including nearly $6 million in sewer system improvements. Poche Beach in Orange County also fell off the list.
According to Heal the Bay, 90 percent of Los Angeles County beaches received A or B grades during the April-October 2013 summer period, up from 6 percent over the previous year.
“This is good news for beachgoers in Los Angeles at most of our local beaches,” James said.