California Beach Report Card: See If Your Favorite Beach Made the Grade

First, the bad news.

Five beaches in Southern California and four in the Bay Area are on this year’s list of Beach Bummers, the state’s 10-most polluted beaches, according to an annual report card issued by environmental advocacy group Heal the Bay. This year’s report, released Wednesday, notes that water quality dipped slightly in 2018-2019 due in large part to winter’s persistent rainfall.

Heal the Bay gives A-F letter grades to beaches based levels of weekly bacteria measurements by county health agencies. Fifty-four percent of California beaches scored an A of a B during wet weather, when runoff triggered by rainstorms tends to increase bacteria levels in oceans. That’s an 8 percentage point drop from the five-year average.

Now, the good news.

Thirty-three California beaches were named to the report’s Honor Roll, which is a list of locations that scored perfect A+ grades each week in all seasons and all weather conditions. To make the list, a beach must be monitored year-round. Two LA County beaches are on the 2018-2019 Honor Roll.

“A day at the beach shouldn’t make anyone sick,” said Dr. Shelley Luce, president and CEO of Heal the Bay. “We are glad to see water quality improving at some beaches, but there are no guarantees.”

Click here to find reports for your favorite beaches.

Below, you’ll find Heal the Bay’s list of Beach Bummers with the organization’s summary of conditions at each location. Scroll down to see the state’s Honor Roll beaches.

Beach Bummers

No. 1: San Clemente Pier, Orange County

“San Clemente Pier was one of two Orange County beaches to make the Beach Bummer list this year. San Clemente Pier last appeared on this list in 2016. This beach is impacted by untreated runoff from a nearby storm drain.” 

No. 2: Clam Beach County Park, Humboldt County

“This chronic Beach Bummer is on the list for the sixth straight year. The beach is impacted by flows from Patrick Creek and Strawberry Creek. Private septic systems located nearby are also potential sources of bacterial pollution.”

No. 3: Linda Mar Beach, San Mateo County

“Making a second consecutive appearance on the Beach Bummer list, this Pacific-side beach is impacted by polluted runoff during dry weather from nearby San Pedro Creek.”

No. 4: Long Beach City Beach at Coronado Avenue, Los Angeles County

“This beach is making its first appearance on the Beach Bummer list. It’s one of three L.A. County beaches on the list this year. At this location, beach water quality is negatively impacted by flows from the L.A. River.”

No. 5: Cowell Beach, West of The Wharf, Santa Cruz County

“This historically troubled spot makes the list for the tenth straight year. The local community is making steady improvements with the formation of a working group dedicated to addressing water quality.” 

No. 6: Monarch Beach at Salt Creek, Orange County

“This spot last appeared on the Beach Bummer list in 2015 and is the second Orange County beach to make the list this year. Water quality is negatively impacted by untreated runoff from a storm drain on the beach.”

No. 7: Marina Del Rey Mother’s Beach, Los Angeles County

“This beach is making its fifth consecutive appearance on the list this year. The lack of waves makes it a popular spot for families with young children. But, the minimal water circulation causes bacteria and pollution to build up.” 

No. 8: Cabrillo Beach, Harborside, Los Angeles County

“This beach has appeared on the list eight times in the last 10 years and is one of three L.A. County Beach Bummers. Cabrillo Beach (harborside) is enclosed by a seawall and the absence of large waves makes it a popular beach for families.” 

No. 9: Keller Beach, South Beach, Contra Costa County

“This spot is making its debut on the Beach Bummer list. Because it is enclosed, there is little water circulation. As a result, bacteria and other pollution do not get flushed away from the beach.”

No. 10: Aquatic Park, San Mateo County

“This beach was on the Beach Bummer list in 2014 and is back again this year. This spot, located in a channel within the San Francisco Bay, is even more cut-off from the open ocean than a typical enclosed beach.”

Honor Roll

  • Santa Cruz: Natural Bridges State Beach
  • Pismo Beach: Sewers at Silver Shoals Dr.
  • Cayucos: Downcoast of the pier
  • San Simeon: Pico Avenue
  • Morro Bay: City Beach, 75 feet north of parking lot
  • Guadalupe, Santa Barbara County: Guadalupe Dunes
  • Channel Islands Harbor: Santa Paula Drive, south of drain
  • Channel Islands Harbor: Sawtelle Avenue, south of drain
  • Ventura: Oil Piers Beach, south of drain
  • San Pedro: Cabrillo Beach, ocean side
  • Malibu: Las Tunas County Beach at Pena Creek
  • Dana Point: Harbor Youth Dock
  • Huntington Harbor: Trinidad Lane Beach
  • Huntington Harbor: Coral Cay Beach
  • Corona del Mar: El Moro Beach
  • Laguna Beach: Victoria Beach
  • Dana Point: South Capistrano Bay Community Beach
  • Dana Point: Dana Strands Beach (AWMA)
  • San Clemente: Linda Lane Beach
  • San Clemente: North Beach at Avenida Pico
  • San Clemente: Avenida Calafia
  • Oceanside: Projection of Cassidy Street
  • Carlsbad: Projection of Poinsettia Lane
  • Carlsbad: Projection of Ponto Drive
  • Carlsbad: Encina Creek outlet
  • Carlsbad: Projection of Palomar Airport Road
  • Carlsbad: Projection of Cerezo Drive
  • Solana Beach, San Diego County: Tide Beach Park at Solana Vista Drive
  • Cardiff, San Diego County: Seaside State Park
  • Cardiff: Las Olas, 100 yards south of Charthouse
  • Cardiff: Charthouse parking, south of Kilkeny
  • Encinitas: San Elijo State Park at Liverpool Drive
  • Encinitas: San Elijo State Park, north end of stairs

Heal the Bay’s annual Beach Report Card includes water analyses for summer dry season (April through October 2018), winter dry season (November 2018 through March 2019) and year-round wet weather. California county health department are required to conduct weekly tests for fecal indicator bacteria during summer. Some counties test popular beaches year-round. Heal the Bay uses that data to assign its letter grades.

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