Los Angeles County beach water quality continued to improve over the last year—with 77 of 89 testing sites earning high grades, a Southern California environmental group announced Tuesday.
According to Heal the Bay's 2012 End of Summer Beach Report Card, which assigns beaches letter grades ranging from a high of A to a low of F, 94 percent of Santa Monica Bay beaches were ranked A or B.
Five of Redondo Beach's six beaches earned letter grades of A or B for dry weather; only the beach immediately south of the Redondo Beach Pier earned a C. The beach at Sapphire Street improved its grade from an A to an A+, but the beach at the Herondo Street storm drain fell a complete letter grade, from an A to a B.
In wet weather, however, the beaches didn't fair nearly as well. The beaches in front of the Herondo Street storm drain, 100 yards south of the pier and at Sapphire Street all earned F's. The beaches in front of the Avenue I storm drain and immediately south of the pier earned C's, while the beach north of the Topaz Street jetty earned a B.
Even the chronically polluted Santa Monica Pier earned an A grade for the third consecutive year. Long Beach grades, while still good, slipped a bit, but still garnered 85 percent A and B rankings.
On the downside, Avalon Beach on Catalina Island has consistently been named among the 10 most polluted beaches in the state—the report's Beach Bummer list—and appeared on that list again today. But the report notes that Avalon's sewer infrastructure was upgraded this summer and other water quality improvement projects are under way.
Two other Los Angeles County sites received F's: Malibu Pier and inner Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro. Heal the Bay and county officials have been unable to find the source of pollution at Malibu Pier, according to the report.
Statewide, the summer qualified as one of the cleanest ever recorded, according to the report. Ninety-six percent of all 446 sites monitored received A or B grades.
Heal the Bay warned that high grades may not last if two recent proposals from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are adopted. One seeks new acceptable bacteria levels that Heal the Bay deems less protective than criteria that have been in place for 25 years. The other would eliminate grant funding that pays for water monitoring programs nationwide.
The full report can be found at http://beachreportcard.org. Beach grades are also updated weekly in a searchable database on the site.
—Editor Nicole Mooradian contributed to this report.