With no surprises, our Sea Ranch Beaches, along with other Sonoma County shores, once again score A+ On Heal The Bay’s 27th Annual Beach Report posted at beachreportcard.org.
Heal the Bay analysts assigned A-to-F letter grades to 100 Northern California beaches for three reporting periods in the 2016-17 report, based on levels of weekly bacterial pollution measured by county health agencies. Northern California beaches include those in Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Alameda, San Francisco, Contra Costa, Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties.
Rain Runoff to Blame for Failing Beach Report Grades
Unfortunately, many other beaches along the California coast in the Heal the Bay’s beach report for bacterial pollution did not fare as well as Sea Ranch. While our much-needed winter storms may have relieved California’s historic drought, all that rain came at some cost – poor beach water quality. Bacterial pollution at some of California’s most popular beaches spiked dramatically in 2016-17, according to the nonprofit organization.
Record rainfall created billions of gallons of polluted runoff, which poured into storm drains and out to the ocean. Nearly half of the 100 Northern California beaches monitored year-round last year earned C to F grades from Heal the Bay during wet weather. That’s in marked contrast to the summer reporting period (April to October 2016), when only 11 beaches earned poor grades.
Polluted Waters Are A Health Risk
Polluted ocean waters pose a significant health risk to the tens of thousands of year-round ocean users in California, who can contract a respiratory or gastrointestinal illness from one morning swim or surf session in polluted waters.
Sarah Sikich, Heal the Bay’s chief scientist, said solutions lie in programs known to mitigate runoff pollution such as increased urban green cover and projects to capture, clean and reuse storm water.
“It’s indicative of a water mismanagement issue in California,” she said. “If we were doing a better job of rethinking that runoff we could turn it from a nuisance into a resource.”
Other culprits harming our coastlines include coastal geography. Cove-like stretches such as those at Cowell and La Jolla are at a disadvantage because pollutants are less readily washed out to sea.
Northern California Beaches Score High
Wet weather aside, the news for summer beachgoers remains positive. Some 85% of Northern California beaches received A grades for the high-traffic summer period (April-October 2016).
In fact, the 37 monitored beaches in Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino and Del Norte counties all earned perfect A grades for summer dry weather.
The only northern California beach that struggled with mixed grades is Humboldt County, with three beaches earning A summer grades, but two spots earning D and F grades.
Check out Heal the Bay’s Beach Bummers Slideshow, which has more details about each of the Bummers.
They are as follows:
- Clam Beach County Park, McKinleyville (Humboldt County)
- San Clemente Pier, San Clemente (Orange County)
- Cowell Beach, West of Wharf, Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz County)
- Lakeshore Park, Marina Lagoon, San Mateo (San Mateo County)
- La Jolla Cove, La Jolla (San Diego County)
- Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica (Los Angeles County)
- Capitola Beach, Capitola (Santa Cruz County)
- Luffenholtz Beach, Trinidad (Humboldt County)
- Mother’s Beach, Marina del Rey (Los Angeles County)
- Monarch Beach, North of Salt Creek, Dana Point (Orange County)
Stay Safe at the Beach this Summer
Here’s how you can make sure that you stay safe at the beach:
- Check BeachReportCard.org for the latest water quality grades.
- Avoid closed beaches
- Swim at least 100 yards away from flowing storm drains and piers.(Imagine a football field.)
- Wait at least three days after rainfall before entering the ocean.
- Water quality is generally very good during the dry summer months (April to October)
- Do not let children play in storm drains or puddles nearby
More Resources from Heal The Bay
To learn more information about Heal the Bay and their Beach Report visit https://healthebay.org/. For a more indepth look at how the studies were done and our coastal pollution issues also visit http://beachreportcard.org/
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