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2,904 Days of Risky Beachwaters in California Last Year

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Photo by Purple Blossom-Cemara Photo via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr

Photo by Purple Blossom-Cemara Photo via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has just released their 20th annual beachwater quality report, which shows that there were 2,904 "beach days"* last year when California's beaches were either closed or under advisory due to water pollution.

Perhaps more unsettling is the drop in the water quality testing rate, meaning that potentially there were days when swimmers, surfers, and other beachgoers were exposed to health risks. It all came down to cost:

For example, in LA County and Orange County, 4,500 fewer samples were collected in 2009 than in 2008. Beaches with known pollution problems were often sampled significantly less than in previous years. For example, only one-third as many samples were collected at Santa Monica Beach at the Santa Monica Pier, at Surfrider Beach in Malibu, and at Cabrillo Beach in 2009 compared with 2008. Samples from all three popular beaches exceed state bacteria standards as much as 40 to 50 percent of the time, but in 2009, they were sampled less often.
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Statewide, 9% of beachwater samples taken last year were deemed in violation of health standards, meaning human or animal waste was present in the sample.

It's not all bad news, however. We do have some beaches ranked as "five-star," in the state, including Laguna Beach, Main Beach, Bolsa Chica State Beach, Newport Beach, and for the first time this year, Cardiff State Beach.

*Obviously there are not 2,904 days in a year. However, there are multiple beaches, and for each day any given one was closed or under advisory, that is a "beach day." So for example, if today 4 beaches were closed and 3 under advisory, that's 7 "beach days" towards the yearly tally. State-by-state reports are downloadable from the NRDC site.

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