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Climate and Environment

Santa Monica Pier Is Back On List Of Top 10 Worst West Coast Beaches In Heal The Bay's Report Card

A person carries an unbrella on the pier with a crowded beach in the background.
The beach at the Santa Monica Pier is back in the top 10 worst West Coast beaches for water quality in the latest report card from Heal the Bay.
(Apu Gomes
/
AFP via Getty Images)
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Heal the Bay's annual beach report card is out with both good and bad news about water quality at local beaches.

More than 90% of California beaches were graded good or excellent in the summer months. But in the winter — when there's more rain and bacterial runoff — just 69% of beaches those high marks.

The Bad

Tracy Quinn, the nonprofit's president, says Heal the Bay is "saddened" that the Santa Monica Pier is back on the list of top 10 worst beaches on the West Coast for the first time since 2018.

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The report notes:

City of Santa Monica officials have stated that they plan on replacing the deteriorating bird-excluding netting under the pier because birds attracted by the pier are a potential source of fecal pollution.

Also on the list of so-called "Beach Bummers" is Mother's Beach in Marina del Rey — which Quinn says has had poor water quality since the report card started more than 30 years ago.

Full "Beach Bummer" Top 10 List

  • Playa Blanca (Baja California, Mexico)
  • Erckenbrack Park (San Mateo County)
  • Marlin Park (San Mateo County)
  • Santa Monica Pier (Los Angeles County)
  • Marina del Rey Mother’s Beach, at lifeguard tower (Los Angeles County)
  • Moonstone County Park (Humboldt County)
  • Newport Bay, Vaughn’s Launch (Orange County)
  • Lakeshore Park (San Mateo County)
  • Marina del Rey Mother’s Beach, between lifeguard tower and boat dock (Los Angeles County)
  • Tijuana Slough, North of Tijuana River Mouth (San Diego County)

"The characteristics that make this beach a great destination for families also make it prone to bacterial pollution," Quinn said. "This beach is enclosed within Marina del Rey so there is little wave action and water circulation. Therefore bacteria pollution does not get flushed away from the shore as it does in our open beaches."

The Good

In Orange County, 19 beaches — including some in Dana Point — made the "honor roll."

And there are a bunch of good spots in L.A. County too, with some of the best year-round water around Palos Verdes. And, believe it or, Venice Beach also made the clean water list.

"We are fortunate to have beaches that are beautiful and clean most days of the year," Quinn said. "But unfortunately there are times and conditions when the water at the beach can make us sick. Our coastal waters are regularly contaminated with pollutants such as chemicals, trash and fecal matter which are harmful to human health and the ocean ecosystem.”

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Here are the honor roll beaches in L.A., and Orange counties:

L.A. County

  • Venice City Beach, at Brooks Ave. drain (Los Angeles County)
  • Rancho Palos Verdes, Long Point (Los Angeles County)
  • Royal Palms State Beach (Los Angeles County)
  • Palos Verdes Estates, at Malaga Cove trail outlet (Los Angeles County)
  • Las Tunas County Beach, at Pena Creek (Los Angeles County)
  • Nicholas Beach, at San Nicholas Canyon Creek (Los Angeles County)

Orange County

  • Dana Point Harbor Youth Dock (Orange County)
  • Dana Point Harbor Guest Dock (Orange County)
  • Poche Beach (Orange County)
  • Doheny Beach (Orange County)
  • Doheny State Beach, end of the park (Orange County)
  • Doheny State Beach, at last campground (Orange County)
  • Corona Del Mar (Orange County)
  • Crystal Cove (Orange County)
  • Marine Science Institute Beach (Orange County)
  • Dana Point, Capistrano County Beach (Orange County)
  • Doheny State Beach, Pedestrian Bridge (Orange County)
  • Dana Strands Beach (Orange County)
  • Huntington City Beach, at 17th Street (Orange County)
  • Bolsa Chica Reserve, at Flood Gates (Orange County)
  • Surfside Beach, at Sea Way (Orange County)
  • San Clemente, at Avenida Calafia (Orange County)
  • Salt Creek Beach (Orange County)
  • Laguna Lido (Orange County)
  • Treasure Island Beach (Orange County)

Some other important takeaways:

  • This past year saw an unprecedented 30 million gallons of sewage enter waterways in coastal areas of California. This figure does not include the millions of gallons of sewage that regularly enter the ocean through the Tijuana River.
  • Heal the Bay reports that many of California's waterways still suffer immense degradation 50 years after the Clean Water Act was passed. Today 37% of California rivers and streams are listed as impaired for recreation under the Clean Water Act. In addition to the 69% of the state's lakes and reservoirs.

You can check the latest water quality data in L.A. County via this map:

Read the full report: 2021-2022 Beach Report Card

Read the summary en Español: El Boletín de Calificaciones de Playas 2022

What questions do you have about Southern California?