Beaches in Long Beach show vast improvement
|May 24, 2012 - The quality of local coastal waters improved drastically in this year's Heal the Bay Report Card — 93 percent of Long Beach beaches earned an A or B grade, compared to just 27 percent last year.|
|LONG BEACH — The quality of local coastal waters improved drastically in this year's Heal the Bay Report Card — 93 percent of Long Beach beaches earned an A or B grade, compared to just 27 percent last year.|
Officials with the nonprofit environmental group say the vast improvement is due to city sewer repairs, storm drain diversion efforts and disinfection projects.
Water quality across Los Angeles County showed improvement as well in the 22nd annual report released this morning.
About 82 percent of sites earned A or B grades, compared to a 75 percent in last year's report. Despite the improvement, beach quality is still well below the statewide average of 92 percent.
"We are heartened by numerous individual beach success stories, but this year highlighted that there is still a long way to go in addressing storm water pollution," said Kirsten James, Heal the Bay's director of water quality. "Locally Heal the Bay will be focusing efforts on advocating for a strong municipal storm water permit to address this critical beach water quality issue."
More than 90 beaches in the county received A to F grades for the dry-weather period from April to October 2011, based on levels of weekly bacterial pollution.
Long Beach, which sits at the terminus of the impaired Los Angeles River, has suffered years of poor water quality.
The improvements appear to be working, as Long Beach showed a significant jump in beach quality during summer dry weather, officials said.
But, despite significant improvements countywide, the region continues to have the greatest number of beaches with poor water quality grades of any county in the state.
In all, 11 beaches in Los Angeles County received F grades for the summer reporting period, up from last year's nine.
Avalon Beach in Catalina is listed as the most polluted beach in the state, largely in part to outdated and leaking sewer lines. However , the city of Avalon has granted $5.1 million toward sewer improvements.
Heal the Bay compiles the complex shoreline data, analyzes it and assigns a letter grade. The organization analyzed 650 beaches in California, Oregon and Washington based on levels of weekly bacterial pollution reported from April 2011 through March 2012.
Samples were drawn during three time periods: summer dry season (April through October), winter dry weather (November 2011 through March 2012) and year-round wet weather conditions.
A poor grade means beach goers face a higher risk of contracting illnesses such as stomach flu, ear infections, upper respiratory infections and skin rashes than swimmers at cleaner beaches.
Beachgoers are encouraged to check the latest water quality grades each week at www.beachreportcard.org, based on the latest samples. They can also access the latest-water grades on the go by downloading Heal the Bay's free application for mobile devices.
One of the reasons that Los Angeles County scores lower in water quality is the fact that its monitoring agencies - unlike most others in the state - collect samples directly in front of flowing storm drains and creeks. Orange and Ventura counties monitor 25 yards or more away from flowing drains and creeks.
This year the city of Los Angeles completed the last phase of a more than $40 million year-round dry weather runoff diversion project in which runoff from eight historically impacted storm drains is funneled into sewers that flow to the Hyperion Treatment Plant, rather than flowing directly into the ocean. All eight beaches near these diversion projects received A or B grades this year during both summer and winter dry weather, a very significant improvement.
Six beaches in Los Angeles County were placed on Heal the Bay's Honor Roll, meaning they scored perfect A or A plus grades every week of the report's three time periods.
Statewide, most California beaches had very good to excellent water quality during summer dry weather this past year, with 407 of 441 (92 percent) locations receiving A and B grades. That marks a 2 percent improvement from the previous report.
Overall, 34 of the beaches (8 percent) monitored statewide received C, D or F grades during summer dry weather. About 19 beaches statewide received an overall F grade during the busy summer beach going season, up from last year's 18.
Seven of the 10 most polluted beaches in the state this past year were in Los Angeles County.
For a detailed look at beach results for each county and report methodology go to www.beachreportcard.org.