By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Heal the Bay released its annual Beach Report Card for 2020-21, which includes data for beaches in Pacific Palisades.
For more than 30 years, the organization has released scientific reports and annual bacterial-pollution rankings for hundreds of beaches across California. Heal the Bay also provides data for dozens of freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County in its River Report Card.
The Beach Report Card assigned grades A to F for 500 beaches on levels of fecal-indicator bacterial pollution in the ocean, as measured by county health agencies, while the River Report Card ranked water quality at 28 freshwater recreation areas during summer 2020.
“The good news is California beaches had excellent water quality in summer 2020,” according to Heal the Bay. “Ninety-three percent of the California beaches monitored by Heal the Bay received an A or B grade, which is on par with the five-year average.”
During Summer (measured April through October 2020) and Winter (November 2020 through March 2021) Dry weather, Will Rogers State Beach, which is monitored at Pulga Canyon storm drain, Santa Monica Canyon, Temescal Canyon and Bel-Air Bay Club, received grades of A and A+. For Wet Weather (April 2020 through March 2021), the Pulga Canyon storm drain and Santa Monica Canyon sites received B grades, while Temescal Canyon earned a D and Bel-Air Bay Club graded A.
Topanga Beach at creek mouth received a D for Summer Dry Grade, A for Winter Dry Grade and B for its Wet Weather Grade.
Heal the Bay reported that its scientists remain “deeply concerned” about ocean water quality, as polluted waters pose a “significant health risk to millions of people” throughout the state.
“People who come in contact with water with a C grade or lower are at a greater risk of contracting illnesses such as stomach flu, ear infections, upper respiratory infections and rashes,” Heal the Bay wrote. “Beaches and rivers usually have high-risk water quality following a rain event. Less rain typically means that reduced amounts of pollutants, including bacteria, are flushed through storm drains and rivers into the ocean.”
This was not the case this past winter, according to Heal the Bay, where rainfall across coastal counties in California was 41% lower than the historical average, but only 57% of beaches had “good” or “excellent” grades during wet weather—a figure it reported is worse than average.
“The lower grades are in part due to the high percentage of ‘first flush’ samples in the wet weather dataset,” according to the report.
Counties that had beaches that made the “Beach Bummer” list—the most polluted beaches in the state based on levels of harmful bacteria in the ocean—were San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Humboldt and Santa Cruz. Los Angeles County had one beach that made the list: Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey.
According to Heal the Bay, 35 beaches scored perfect water quality grades year-round, earning them a spot on California’s Beach Honor Roll List, compared to 42 the year prior. While Orange County had the most beaches make the honor roll list, seven LA County beaches were also named, including Leo Carrillo Beach at Arroyo Sequit Creek, Las Flores State beach at Las Flores Creek and Broad Beach at Trancas Creek.
“A day at the beach and the river shouldn’t make anyone sick,” said Dr. Shelley Luce, president and CEO of Heal the Bay, in a statement. “With the closures, stress and uncertainty of the pandemic, it is no surprise that people sought out our local waters in 2020. While we’re thrilled about the excellent water quality across California, our marine ecosystems are still threatened by climate change and other pollution sources.”
For more information, including the full Beach Report Card and River Report Card, visit healthebay.org/beachreportcard2021.
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