Angelenos headed to the beach can check the quality of water they plan to play in with a new app released Wednesday by Waterkeeper Alliance, a network of 200 worldwide water protection groups.
The free phone app uses water quality monitoring data from government agencies and provides reports for more than 300 beaches in California—including nearly 50 in Los Angeles County—and across North America.
Named the California Swim Guide, it allows users to view photos, read descriptions and report pollution to a local Waterkeeper official. Users can also share information on social networks.
"The Swim Guide will provide beach goers with the up-to-date information that they need to locate and discover the closest and safest beaches along the L.A. County coastline," said Liz Crosson, a local Waterkeeper and Santa Monica Baykeeper executive director.
Santa Monica-based has released a similar app that grades more than 650 beaches along the West Coast, assigning poor letter grades to those with higher levels of pollution.
Water quality tends to be best in the dry, summer months, when bacteria levels are lower, but the nonprofit released its annual "beach report card" last week showing only 82 percent of Los Angeles County beaches getting an A or B grades during that time.
Exposure to high levels of bacteria is linked to such potential illnesses as stomach flu, ear infections and major skin rashes.
— City News Service contributed to this report.