State’s Worst Beach is Right Here

Most make the grade, but some Bay Area beaches are still problem zones.

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With Memorial Day Weekend just days away, many around the Bay Area are thinking about summer beach trips. A new report out Wednesday gave those summer plans the green light. The 2011 Beach Report Card showed near-perfect water quailty for most of the area's beaches.

Overall, the report by the group Heal the Bay found 85-percent of the local beaches  received an A-grade.  

The grades are based on beach water quality samples taken at least once a week. The ratings are also split into four time frames: summer dry season, year-round dry weather, winter dry weather and year-round wet weather, according to Heal the Bay.

"Ocean and Bay users should be very happy with local water quality this year with 91-percent of the beach locations monitored receiving an A or B grade during peak beach-going season," said James Alamillo who worked on the report.

Not all the news was good.

Baker Beach in San Francisco has the dubious distinction of being named on the Bay’s Top 10 Beach Bummer List, which ranks the most polluted sites in the state. The group said beause it sits on a creek, the site suffers frequent bacterial exceedances.

Santa Cruz's Cowell Beach is the top beach on that "bummer list." Heal the Bay said it is the most polluted in the state.  Capitola also made the bummer list. A poor grade means beach goers face a higher risk of contracting illnesses such as stomach flu, ear infections, upper respiratory infections and skin rashes.

The full report is available online.

The Top 10 Bummer Beaches

  1. Cowell Beach – at the wharf (Santa Cruz County)
  2. Avalon Harbor Beach on Catalina Island (Los Angeles County)
  3. Cabrillo Beach harborside (Los Angeles County)
  4. Topanga State Beach at creek mouth (Los Angeles County)
  5. Poche Beach (Orange County)
  6. North Beach/Doheny (Orange County)
  7. Arroyo Burro Beach (Santa Barbara County)
  8. Baker Beach at Lobos Creek (San Francisco County)
  9. Colorado Lagoon (Los Angeles County)
  10. Capitola Beach -- west of the jetty (Santa Cruz County)

A study also looked ahead to 2012 and warned next year we may be swimming at their own risk because of funding cuts to sampling. The state water board funded the program only through 2011.

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