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Beaches in California are polluted with fecal bacteria and E. coli: where to relax so as not to get infected

Organization Heal the Bay has published a ranking of the cleanest and dirtiest beaches in California. Where you can safely go swimming, and where you should be careful, the publication said KTLA.

Photo: Shutterstock

The organization has assessed 700 beaches along the West Coast based on bacterial contamination. 94% of California beaches received an A or B water quality rating during the dry summer period from April to October 2021. Meanwhile, during the dry winter period from November 2021 to March 2022, 88% of the beaches were rated A.

This year, 51 beaches out of more than 500 tracked have made it to the Honor List, up from 35 last year. These beaches have earned an A rating for all seasons and weather conditions.

Below-average rainfall during drought conditions has contributed to a slight improvement in beach water quality during rainy periods, as less rain means less pollutants.

However, West Coast waters have been hit by several major industrial disasters over the past year, including burst sewers.

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“Unfortunately, an unprecedented 30 million gallons of sewage entered waterways in coastal California last year, and this figure does not include the millions of gallons of sewage that regularly enters the ocean via the Tijuana River,” the report says.

The dirtiest beaches

Beaches with the lowest ratings:
  • 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, Humbold 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

Santa Monica Pier is back on the dirtiest beach list for the first time since 2018.

Water samples were tested for the presence of three faecal indicator bacteria: common E. coli, fecal coliform bacteria (E. coli) and Enterococcus spp.

Since most pollutants enter the ocean through storm drains, rivers and streams, residents have been advised to avoid contact with ocean water near storm drains and river outlets.

The best beaches

To qualify for a place on the Roll of Honor, a beach must be monitored throughout the year and receive an A+ rating for water quality at all times of the year and in all weather conditions.

According to Heal the Bay, this is partly why the list is usually dominated by Southern California beaches. The organization said that many residents of Northern and Central California do not monitor the quality of water on the beaches year-round.

For the second year in a row, Orange County had the most beaches on the "Honour Roll". Dana Point and Doheny State Beach have several places on the list.

Treasure Island Beach made the Roll of Honor for the third year in a row, and Crystal Cove appeared for the second time.

Most of the most popular Los Angeles County beaches this year are on the Palos Verdes Peninsula or in the Malibu area.

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Top rated beaches by Heal the Bay

In Los Angeles County:
  • Venice City Beach, at Brooks Ave. drain
  • Rancho Palos Verdes, Long Point
  • Royal Palms State Beach Los Angeles
  • Palos Verdes Estates, at Malaga Cove trail outlet
  • Las Tunas County Beach, at Pena Creek
  • Nicholas Beach, at San Nicholas Canyon Creek
In Orange County:
  • Dana Point Harbor Youth Dock
  • Dana Point Harbor Guest Dock
  • Poche Beach
  • Doheny Beach
  • Doheny State Beach, End of the Park
  • Doheny State Beach, at Last Campground
  • Corona Del Mar
  • Crystal cove
  • Marine Science Institute Beach
  • Dana Point, Capistrano County Beach
  • Doheny State Beach
  • Dana Strands Beach
  • Huntington City Beach, at 17th Street
  • Bolsa Chica Reserve, at Flood Gates
  • Surfside Beach, at Sea Way
  • San Clemente, at Avenida Calafia
  • Salt Creek Beach
  • Laguna Lido
  • Treasure Island
In San Diego County:
  • Del Mar, at 15th Street
  • Carlsbad, at Tamarack Ave.
  • Carlsbad, at Poinsettia Lane
  • Carlsbad, at Encina Creek
  • Carlsbad, at Palomar Airport Rd.
  • Carlsbad, at Cerezo Drive
  • Oceanside, at Forster Street
  • Oceanside, Harbor Beach at Harbor Drive
  • Point Loma, Lighthouse
  • Point Loma, Point Loma Treatment Plant
  • Sunset Cliffs, at Ladera Street
  • Mission Beach, Belmont Park
  • La Jolla Shores Beach, 1000 ft south of Scripps Pier
  • La Jolla Shores Beach, 250 feet south of Scripps Pier
  • La Jolla Shores Beach, 500 feet north of Scripps Pier
In Santa Barbara County:
  • Guadalupe Dunes
  • East Beach, at Sycamore Creek
  • El Capitan State Beach
  • Sands, at Coal Oil Point
In San Luis Obispo County:
  • Cayucos State Beach, downcoast of the pier
  • Pismo Beach
  • Pismo Beach, at Wadsworth Street
  • San Simeon State Beach, at Pico Ave.
  • Morro Strand State Beach, at Beachcomber Drive
  • Pismo State Beach, 571 yards south of Pier Ave.
  • Pismo State Beach, 330 yards north of Pier Ave

Ventura County is usually on the list, but Heal the Bay reported that no beaches in the county made the list this year because they weren't supervised enough to earn ratings.

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