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National Study Ranks Best and Worst Beaches: We're Number 22

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Blame pollution: 2008 was another banner year for troubled waters at our nation's beaches, according to the results of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) annual study. Although last year was a dry one, "aging and poorly designed sewage and stormwater systems hold much of the blame for beachwater pollution [and] stormwater runoff contributed to two-thirds of the closing/advisory days in which a contamination source was reported."

Locally, we don't have much bragging rights, despite being known world-wide for our scenic shore lines, water sports, and beach-going lifestyle. California ranks 22 in the study, and in "Southern California, some of the worst beaches include Avalon Beach (north of GP Pier), Cabrillo Beach, Santa Monica State Beach-Pier, Doheny State Beach, Kiddie Beach," reports abc7.com. How polluted are our beaches? Well, "when samples were tested from Avalon Beach on Catalina, it exceeded the health standards of bacteria in the water by 64 percent."

Not all of SoCal got a failing grade: "The study ranked the 200 most popular beaches in the country on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being best. Main Beach in the city of Laguna Beach was ranked a 5-star beach in Southern California."