Since 2005, the number of annual tests for bacteria has dropped by nearly half, leaving swimmers, surfers and divers at risk of exposure to contaminated water.
According to the Times,
Beaches from San Diego to the Bay Area are being tested less often and in fewer locations; some are going untested for months at a time. Statewide, the number of annual tests for bacteria has dropped by nearly half since 2005, according to a Times analysis of state records.
Officials say state budget cuts are a key factor in the scaled back testing.
According to state reports, the Trestles surf break in Southern California was tested only four times last year, compared to nearly 70 times in 2005.
California passed a law in 1999 that requires health officials to test at least once a week during the summer beach season. If bacteria levels are too high, lifeguards post signs warning swimmers of the risk.
While this news is discouraging, experts say overall water quality is better than in years past. They credit that to better sewage treatment plants and our recent drought conditions.