San Diego County beaches earned high marks on Heal the Bays 24th annual beach report card, but the environmental organization cautioned that stormwater flows to the countys beaches still pose health problems.
For nearly a quarter century, Heal the Bay has been analyzing and grading West Coast beaches based on levels of bacterial pollution in the water. The report is widely recognized as the definitive source for beach water quality along California, Oregon and Washington.
For the period from April 2013 through March 2014, nearly 99% of beaches in San Diego County received top marks in the summer dry season, with 73 of 74 beaches sampled receiving A or A+ grades, the report concluded. Thats the second year in a row the county has scored 99 percent for that period. During winter dry weather, 98 percent of San Diego beaches earned A grades.
Grades of A or B represent generally safe beaches. But beaches marked C or lower present in increased risk of illnesses such as rashes, stomach ailments or ear infections.
Seven San Diego beaches made the reports honor roll with perfect scores of A+ for all weather conditions. Those included Saint Malo Beach in Oceanside; Carlsbads beaches at Cerezo Drive, Encina Creek, Ponto Drive and Poinsettia lane; Windansea Beach at Playa del Norte, and the Point Loma Lighthouse.
And this year, no San Diego beaches made the beach bummer list of shorelines with the poorest dry weather water quality.
The catch, however, is that the pristine beach conditions are due largely to long dry periods this year. The ongoing drought that has left the region thirsting for rainfall has also reduced stormwater flows that carry pollution to sea.
If you can call it a silver lining that comes with the drought, it would be beach water quality, said Heal the Bay beach report card manager James Alamillo. If theres no rain, theres no runoff, and there is in essence great water quality.
During wet weather, however, just over one in five San Diego beaches earned grades of C, D, or F, the report noted.
The dog beach at Ocean Beach earned an A or higher for water quality during all of the past year, according to the latest Beach Report Card from the group Heal the Bay. / photo by Hayne Palmour IV * U-T San Diego
San Diego beaches make high grade