Good news for Santa Monica Bay buffs: The quality of its water has improved since last year, announced Tuesday morning. And in even better news for Santa Monica, the has earned an A grade for the second year in a row.
The news was noted on the nonprofit’s End of Summer Beach Report Card, which tracks bacterial pollution from Memorial Day through Labor Day. During that time frame, Heal the Bay monitors and rates 447 beaches in California. Heal the Bay's , released in May, indicated the overall water quality at Los Angeles County beaches worsened in 2010-11.
This summer, 89 percent of Santa Monica Bay beaches earned A or B grades, compared with 87 percent last year. In Los Angeles County, the number of A or B grades rose from 79 to 85 percent of beaches monitored.
The biggest improvement in Los Angeles happened in Long Beach, where all the sites monitored this summer got A or B grades—a first since 1990. Last year, that was only the case with 73 percent of beaches in that area.
"We continue to see water quality improvements at California beaches,” Heal the Bay President said in a statement. “A sustainable source of beach monitoring funding is critical to ensure that we continue to capitalize on these gains and safeguard the public health of millions of ocean users statewide.”
For other beaches near Santa Monica, the news wasn't so good. Santa Monica Bay beaches including Malibu Pier, Surfrider Beach and Topanga State Beach were among the ones that earned F grades. In May, the areas near the pier were removed from Heal the Bay's list of "Beach Bummers" on its Beach Report Card.
"A combination of water-quality improvement projects including new storm drain infrastructure, runoff diversion replacement and the installation of bird exclusion nets under part of the pier, may have contributed to the drastically improved grades" in the End of Summer Beach Report Card, Heal the Bay said.
Ninety-four percent of Orange County beaches earned an A grade, which was slightly worse than last summer, while all 73 beaches monitored in San Diego earned an A or B grade. All 40 Ventura beaches got an A.
The news wasn't so good at San Pedro's Cabrillo Beach, which continued its eight-year streak of earning F grades, despite the city of Los Angeles pouring $15 million into improvement projects. Water quality was better in Santa Barbara County, where 87 percent of beaches received A or B grades.
While the water quality improved in Southern California this summer, there wasn't a similar uptick statewide. Like last year, 92 percent of California beaches received A or B grades. Nine earned Cs, nine received Ds and 19 got Fs.
Heal the Bay bases its report on weekly water quality monitoring data that is provided by dischargers and health agencies. The methodology behind the Beach Report Card—which the nonprofit calls "is a comprehensive examination of coastal water in California, Oregon and Washington—can be found here
Also, Heal the Bay has announced a soon-to-be-released, free Beach Report Card app through which a comprehensive, weekly analysis of coastline water quality can be accessed. Go here for more information about the app.