Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cleaner Beaches?

Pollution survey finds California beaches cleaner

Waters off California's coast are cleaner -- and safer for swimmers and surfers -- in dry weather than they've been in years, according to a new environmental report released this morning.

But while water pollution is improving overall statewide, Los Angeles County is home to the most bacteria-laden seawater in California for the third straight year. Half of the 10 foulest shorelines in the state are in Los Angeles County, with the dirtiest surf at Avalon Harbor Beach on Santa Catalina Island.

Other "beach bummers" with the worst water quality were the waters at Santa Monica Pier, Poche Beach and North Beach Doheny in South Orange County, Marie Canyon at Puerco Beach in Malibu, Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro and various locations in Long Beach.

Drier-than-average weather helped keep most ocean waters cleaner; in rainy conditions, however, more than half of Southern California beaches tested fair to poor for traces of fecal bacteria.

"For storm water pollution, we're not doing a good job at all," said Mark Gold, president of the Santa Monica-based nonprofit Heal the Bay, which compiles the report. "The beaches are just as polluted today during rainstorms as they were 15 years ago."

Runoff can contain trash, toxic heavy metals, pesticides, fertilizer, petroleum byproducts, animal waste and human sewage.

"It's not surprising -- it's just frustrating," Gold said. "We've had so much progress in so many other, different areas of coastal protection [yet] our beaches still look like landfills after every rain."

More of the story here.

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