Beach Report Card 2017-18: Banner Year for Water Quality
Heal the Bay today released our 28th annual Beach Report Card, which assigns yearly A-to-F water-quality grades for more than 400 beaches statewide based on levels of harmful bacteria.
Our staff scientists put a ton of work into this comprehensive county-by-county survey of pollution along the California shoreline. We encourage you to geek out on all the stats and charts we’ve assembled in the colorful, easy-to-read report.
But if you are short on time, here are the major findings:
- There’s one silver lining in Southern California’s recent swing back to drought-like conditions – improved beach water quality.
- Less rain means less bacteria-laden urban runoff carried to the sea via the stormdrain system. Accordingly, bacterial pollution at our local beaches dipped dramatically in 2017-18. Some 95% of the beaches monitored in Southern California earned A grades during the busy summer season, a 5% uptick from the reporting period’s five-year average.
- In another positive sign, a record 37 beaches in California made the Heal the Bay Honor Roll this year – meaning they are monitored year-round and score perfect A-plus grades each week during all seasons and weather conditions. You can see the full list on page 20 of the report.
- Northern California beach-water quality sagged slightly in 2017-18, driven in large part by troubled beaches in San Mateo County and Humboldt County.
- Some 88% of the 96 Northern California beaches monitored by Heal the Bay received an A or B grade for the busy summer season. That figure marks a 3% dip from the region’s five-year summer average.
- In a somewhat surprising twist, Northern California held seven spots on our infamous Beach Bummer List, a ranking of the top 10 most polluted beaches in the state based on levels of harmful bacteria.
- Poche Beach (creek mouth) in Orange County has the dubious honor of holding the top spot on our Beach Bummer List this year. For the full list, please see page 16 of the report.
- You can get a county-by-county, beach-by-beach breakdown in the full report.
- Download our press releases for Southern California and Northern California.
We’re also expanding our predictive beach water-quality NowCast program this summer, which could be a game-changer for better protecting people at the beach. Using sophisticated statistical models, environmental data, and past bacteria samples, the scientific team can accurately predict each morning what beaches might be impacted by bacterial pollution that day. Knowledge is power! This summer, Heal the Bay will run models for 20 beaches, from San Diego to San Francisco counties, posting predictions each morning on our digital platforms.
New website and mobile app
We’re also stoked to take the wraps off our newly redesigned Beach Report Card website, which allows users to get the latest water-quality grades for their favorite beaches in real-time. We’ve streamlined functionality and incorporated the new data sets from our NowCast program. Our tech team also is readying a new mobile app to launch this summer, just in time for prime beachgoing season. Learn more about what is new.
How to stay safe at the beach
- Check beachreportcard.org for latest water quality grades
- Avoid shallow, enclosed beaches, which usually suffer from poor circulation
- Swim at least 100 yards away from flowing storm drains, creeks and piers