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The Drought Has Made Our Beaches Cleaner

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They're staying out of the water at the Santa Monica Pier, and probably for a good reason (Photo by Davidag via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Southern California's beaches are much cleaner now thanks to the drought, though one very popular beach received a failing grade.Heal The Bay released their annual Beach Report Card on Wednesday, and according to the report 97% of Southern California beaches received A- or B-grades during the summer season. "The severe drought now impacting California appears to be a major contributing factor to generally strong water quality at beaches statewide," wrote Heal The Bay. "With record low rainfall reducing the amount of polluted runoff funneled into our seas, beach grades across the state are consistently outperforming their five-year average."

The three cleanest beaches in Los Angeles County were all on the Palos Verdes peninsula, earning them the "Honor Roll" distinction, along with four Orange County Beaches. In Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, the 100% of beaches all earned A-grades during the summer months. Overall, 95% of beaches in the entire state received an A- or B-grade during the most popular beachgoing months.

Unfortunately, three local beaches made the Top 10 "Beach Bummers" list: Mother's Beach in Marina del Rey (#2), the Santa Monica Pier (#6), and Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro (#9). Both Mother's Beach and the Santa Monica Pier received F-grades across the board, while Cabrillo Beach's harborside stretch was the worst offender. It's the second year in a row all three of those beaches made the Top 10 Beach Bummers list.

The grades are based on the level of bacteria in the water, and Heal The Bay separately monitors water quality after wet weather. According to their report, only 63% of beaches in the state still receive an A- or B-grade after it rains. The group recommends that beachgoers avoid the water at least three days after a storm.

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"We'd like people to just be vigilant and check our report card because we'd like them to visit the beach and not the emergency room," Sarah Sikich, the group's vice president, told the L.A. Times. Harmful bacteria found in seawater can cause the stomach flu, ear and upper respiratory infections and major skin rashes.