Drought Improves Water Quality at Most Local Beaches

Posted in: Drought, United States Water News, Water Crisis, Water quality
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Photo Credit: Patch.

Article courtesy of Paige Austin | June 17, 2015 | Patch | Shared as educational material

Not all news about the state’s drought is bad, with a report released today citing the lack of rainfall as a major contributor to improved water quality at California beaches, although three Los Angeles County beaches and one in Orange County were rated as among the 10 most-polluted in the state.

The environmental group Heal the Bay’s latest Beach Report Card, which assigns letter grades to beaches based on water quality, found that the lack of storm runoff pouring into the ocean actually helped keep pollution down. In Los Angeles County, 94 percent of the area’s 92 beaches received A or B grades for water quality from April through October 2014, up 4 percent from last year’s report.

Three Los Angeles County beaches even landed on the group’s “Honor Roll” for earning A+ grades — Bluff Cove in Palos Verdes Estates, Abalone Cove Shoreline Park in Rancho Palos Verdes and Portuguese Bend Cove, also in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Four Orange County beaches made the Honor Roll — The Wedge at Balboa Beach, Treasure Island Beach in Laguna Beach, Laguna Lido Apartments beach in Laguna Beach and Dana Point Harbor guest dock.

But the news wasn’t all good. Los Angeles County had the most beaches in the state — 13 — that received grades of C or lower. During wet weather, nearly half of the county’s beaches fell to an F grade, according to the group.

Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey ranked number two on Heal the Bay’s “Beach Bummers” list of the most polluted beaches in the state. The beach at Santa Monica Pier ranked sixth on the list, while Cabrillo Beach harborside in San Pedro was ranked ninth. The group noted that Mother’s Beach and Cabrillo Beach are both enclosed sites with poor circulation.

Huntington Beach at Brookhurst ranked 10th on the Beach Bummers list, marking the first time a Huntington Beach location has made the roster of most- polluted beaches. Heal the Bay, however, credited Orange County for moving its water-quality sampling locations closer to potential pollution sources to give more accurate readings.

Overall, Orange County fared well in the report, with 95 percent of its 102 beaches receiving A grades.

Heal the Bay officials noted that while the dry weather has improved beach water quality, government officials should explore ways to prevent stormwater from ever reaching the ocean and develop projects to capture and reuse rainwater.

“In a time of severe drought, it’s madness to send billions of gallons of runoff to pollute the sea when we could be capturing and cleansing that water for daily use,” said Sarah Sikich, vice president of Heal the Bay. “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.”

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