[UPDATED with Honor Roll Beaches:] OC Beaches Score Excellent Grades on Heal the Bay Report Card

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UPDATE, MAY 27, 4:49 P.M.: The original report on Orange County's excellent showing on Heal the Bay's Beach Report Card left off the beaches that made the 2010-11 Honor Roll, and for good reason: the link to that list was broken.

The link has since been repaired, so after the jump are OC's year-round monitored beaches with zero bacterial standards exceedances during dry weather.

Surf the following in good health . . .

• Balboa Beach
The Wedge

• Newport Bay
Ruby Avenue Beach
19th Street Beach
10th Street Beach

• Crescent Bay Beach

• Aliso Creek - 1000' north

• Table Rock

• Laguna Lido Apt.

• 9th St. 1000 Steps Beach

• Ocean Institute Beach (SERRA)

• San Clemente

ORIGINAL POST, MAY 25, 3:20 P.M.: The good news: Orange County beaches once again recorded excellent water quality grades, slightly better than last year and well above the state average, according to Heal the Bay's 2010-2011 Beach Report Card.

The bad news: Two of two OC's chronically polluted beaches, Poche and Doheny, landed on the Top 10 Beach Bummer List of the region's dirtiest waters.

The really bad news: Los Angeles County water quality dipped and Long Beach's fell dramatically in the 21st annual report.

Since we're brown water glass half-full types, we'll look at the positive first: of 84 Orange County beaches monitored year-round by the county health officials during dry weather, 96% received an A or B grade during the summer, finds the report from the nonprofit, Santa Monica-based environmental stewards.

Water quality is better near Santa Monica Pier due to $2 million in recent improvements, according to Heal the Bay.
Water quality is better near Santa Monica Pier due to $2 million in recent improvements, according to Heal the Bay.
Heal the Bay

Analysts from 26-year-old Heal the Bay crunch data collected from the Mexican border up to Washington state and assign A- through F-letter grades to individual beaches. There are two semesters, if you will: the dry season and the wet-weather days. The statewide average year-round in 2010-11 found 90 percent of California beaches receiving As or Bs, so OC even beat that.

While wet weather water quality in Orange County fell in Heal the Bay's "poor" range--with 64% of monitoring locations receiving As or Bs--that beat the 42% that received such grades in 2009-10. As Heal the Bay put it on its report summary page, that's "an improvement that benefits the county's sizable population of year-round surfers."

According to Heal the Bay, "A poor grade means beachgoers face a higher risk of contracting illnesses such as stomach flu, ear infections, upper respiratory infections and skin rashes than swimmers at cleaner beaches."

Orange County's excellent report card is tempered by the continued shitty performance of Poche Beach in San Clemente and North Beach/Doheny in Dana Point. Heal the Bay notes that a dry weather filtration-disinfection plant completed last year at Poche has yet to meet performance specifications, and that county officials continue to work on improving water quality in troubled surf zones.

While having two OC beaches on the Top 10 Beach Bummers list is, well, a bummer, at least none of ours landed in the No. 1 spot, where Poche and Doheny's Baby Beach have found themselves in past Heal the Bay reports. Here's the 2010-11 list:

1. Cowell Beach - at the wharf (Santa Cruz County)
2. Avalon Harbor Beach on Catalina Island (L.A. County)
3. Cabrillo Beach harborside (Los Angeles County)
4. Topanga State Beach at creek mouth (L.A. County)
5. Poche Beach (Orange County)
6. North Beach/Doheny (Orange County)
7. Arroyo Burro Beach (Santa Barbara County)
8. Baker Beach at Lobos Creek (San Francisco County)
9. Colorado Lagoon (Los Angeles County)
10. Capitola Beach -- west of the jetty (Santa Cruz County)
 
Los Angeles County led all tested regions in having four of its beaches land on the bummer list. The hits keep coming: dry-weather testing countywide showed 75% of LA's beaches received As or Bs, compared to 80% the previous year. Wet weather water quality fell significantly, with only 29% of beaches receiving A or B grades compared to 50% last year.

Heal the Bay pointed to heavy rains and significant pollution in Avalon, Malibu and Long Beach conspiring to drag LA County down. Water quality fell an alarming 40% from last year in Long Beach. Only 33% of its monitored beaches received As or Bs during dry weather periods.

Heal the Bay points to the pollution-choked LA River, which dumps into Long Beach waters, as being the source of the bad grades. "The nearly 1,000-square-mile drainage area is the predominant source of fecal bacteria to Long Beach waters," reports the nonprofit.

Meanwhile, LA County's overall bad grades can be attributed to the way its monitoring agencies collect samples, doing so directly in front of flowing storm drains and creeks. Orange County, like most agencies across the state, monitors 25 yards or more away from flowing drains and creeks.

Statewide, local agencies continue to feel the effects of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2008 line-item veto of state beach monitoring funds. "Fortunately, some local governments have temporarily allocated additional funding to provide this invaluable service to the beach-going public," reports Heal the Bay. "The State Water Resources Control Board also provided major stop-gap funding through 2011."

Download a PDF version of the entire report car at www.healthebay.org.

Also, your favorite beach's report card is updated every Friday at www.beachreportcard.org


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