Recently, the Santa Monica-based nonprofit, Heal the Bay, released their annual “Beach Bummer List,” which ranks the ten worst California beaches based on water quality.
As a newcomer on the list, La Jolla Cove came in at No. 5. They found that this was largely due to the natural cove structure, which does not allow for a great deal of water circulation. Although agency staff who monitor water quality (employed by each county’s department of health) noted increased seal and sea lion activity in the area, whether or not that contributes to the high bacteria count found was unknown.
“Basically, we have long-term partnerships with the counties, and they send out crews to go out and measure bacteria levels every week,” said Karen Vu, a data analyst with Heal the Bay. “At the end of the year, we analyze all of the data and produce an ‘honor roll’ for the beaches with normal bacteria counts, as well as the ‘Beach Bummer List.’”
Heal the Bay analysts assigned A-to-F letter grades to 416 beaches along the California coast for three reporting periods in 2016-2017, based on levels of weekly bacterial pollution. According to their website, 96 percent of beaches received an A or B grade during the summer.
The Cove found its median spot on this list with Monarch Beach in Dana Point coming in at No. 10 and Clam Beach Park in Humboldt at No. 1.
It is worth note that the cause of high levels of bacteria in the majority of other beaches on the list are contributed by human, animal and environmental factors.
“The purpose of our organization is to keep beachgoers informed of the water quality of California beaches, keeping them up to date with new information, which is published each week,” said Vu. “While this information can be discouraging, it is definitely necessary for the public to be informed.”
Their website also encourages, in order to avoid illness, ocean-goers checking the latest water quality grades at their favorite beaches, based on the latest samples, each week at beachreportcard.org (or download the Beach Report Card app for Apple or Android).
For more information, visit www.healthebay.org.