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5 SoCal Beaches Where You Might Get Hit With A Wave Of Poop Water

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When you dive into the coooooooool, blue waves off the coast of Southern California this summer, know that sometimes that water is full of poop. Or, more specifically, fecal indicator bacteria primarily found in the intestines of mammals.

That's according to the annual Beach Report Card released today by Heal the Bay.

The good news is that during the summer, water quality in Southern California is generally pretty good across the board.

"Over 90% of the beaches had good water quality last summer," said Luke Ginger, water quality scientist with the organization.

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The bad news is that when it rains, the runoff that makes its way down to the water is chock-full of pathogens that can lead to things like upper respiratory illness, ear and eye infections and gastrointestinal issues.

There are exceptions to the clean summer water rule. Five of the top 10 dirtiest beaches in the state are located in Southern California, according to the report.

So you probably want to avoid:

  • San Clemente pier
  • Long Beach at Coronado Avenue
  • Monarch Beach at Salt Creek
  • Mother's Beach in Marina Del Rey
  • Cabrillo Beach (harbor side)

All have elevated levels of bacteria for various reasons, even during the dry season.
San Clemente pier takes the number one spot, as untreated runoff flows directly into the area year round.

There were also 155 sewage spills in Southern California over the past year, with nearly 1.5 million gallons reaching the ocean.

Heal the Bay recommends that every beach be avoided for at least three days after a rain event, and that you should stay 100 yards away from creek mouths and storm drains year round. (As a surfer who's paddled through yellow foam, floating wrappers and the undeniable stench of human feces knows, that's probably a good idea.)


There are limits to this report card. They judged water quality by looking at concentrations of fecal indicator bacteria (total coliform, enterococcus and fecal coliform or E. coli). The presence of the various bacterias, which can come from soil and plants, but come often from human and animal waste, can indicate the presence of pathogens in the water that can make people sick.

What's not accounted for is the presence of contaminants like pesticides, heavy metals or elevated levels of contaminants due to wildfires.


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Out of the 500 beaches tested, these 33 made Heal the Bay's "honor roll," meaning they were some of the cleanest in the state year round. They note that the list skews towards Southern California, as some counties in Central and Northern California don't monitor their beaches as often.

Santa Cruz Santa Cruz Natural Bridges State Beach
Pismo Beach San Luis Obispo Sewers at Silver Shoals Drive
Cayucos San Luis Obispo Downcoast of the Pier
San Simeon San Luis Obispo At Pico Avenue
Morro Bay San Luis Obispo City Beach (north of parking lot)
Guadalupe Santa Barbara Guadalupe Dunes
Channel Is. Harbor Ventura At Santa Paula Drive (south of drain)
Channel Is. Harbor Ventura At Sawtelle Avenue (south of drain)
Ventura Ventura Oil Piers Beach (south of drain)
San Pedro Los Angeles Cabrillo Beach (ocean side)
Malibu Los Angeles Las Tunas County Beach at Pena Creek
Dana Point Orange Harbor Youth Dock
Huntington Harbor Orange Trinidad Lane Beach
Huntington Harbor Orange Coral Cay Beach
Corona del Mar Orange El Moro Beach
Laguna Beach Orange Victoria Beach
Dana Point Orange South Capistrano Bay Community Beach
Dana Point Orange Dana Strands Beach
San Clemente Orange Linda Lane Beach
San Clemente Orange North Beach at Avenida Pico
San Clemente Orange At Avenida Calafi
Oceanside San Diego Projection of Cassidy Street
Carlsbad San Diego Projection of Poinsettia Lane
Carlsbad San Diego Projection of Ponto Drive
Carlsbad San Diego Encina Creek outlet
Carlsbad San Diego Projection of Palomar Airport Road
Carlsbad San Diego Projection of Cerezo Drive
Solana Beach San Diego Tide Beach Park (projection of Solana Vista Drive)
Cardiff San Diego Seaside State Park
Cardiff San Diego Las Olas
Cardiff San Diego Charthouse parking (south of Kilkeny)
Encinitas San Diego San Elijo State Park (projection of Liverpool Drive)
Encinitas San Diego San Elijo State Park (north end of stairs)