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Heal The Bay hands out impressive grades

Three Orange County areas move up to A-plus, one more reaches an A

city manager suggests street sweeping, storm water filtration among infrastructure that helped.

September 28, 2011|By Sarah Peters
  • Perfect wave: A peak moves along the Newport Beach breakwater before it hits the Wedge at full force during Septembers huge swells. The Wedge received top marks from the environmental watchdog Heal The Bay for its water quality.
Perfect wave: A peak moves along the Newport Beach breakwater… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

Newport Beach and surrounding coastal communities this week received the kind of report card that would make any parent proud: nearly straight As.

From Newport Bay to Crystal Cove, area beaches not only scored high in water quality on Heal the Bay's annual report card, but many fared better than last year.

The Santa Monica-based environmental nonprofit's report gave A-to-F grades to 447 California beaches after documenting the "routine monitoring of beaches by local health agencies and dischargers," according a press release. Samples were also analyzed for bacteria can designate pollution in the water.

Among the popular local spots that improved from an A to an A-plus this year are the Balboa Pier, The Wedge and Crystal Cove at Pelican Point.

The grades can be viewed at brc.healthebay.org/default.aspx?tabid=2.

"I think that this is representative of a trending of better practices from everyone, from residents to our own staff," said City Manager Dave Kiff.

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Kiff pointed to the city infrastructure, such as street sweeping and storm water filtration systems, as contributing to the consistently high marks.

Overall, 94% of waters tested in Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Seal Beach, Dana Point and San Clemente received an A or higher.

The report is based on data collected from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The grades are based on a point system in which the safest beaches for swimming have the highest marks.

"Generally speaking, Orange County and San Diego County have some of the best water quality in the state," said Mike Grimmer, Heal the Bay beach report manager. "It's a trend that we see over and over again each year."

The high marks come in the wake of two Newport Beach sewage spills earlier this year.

In May, 1,000 feet of beach around the Balboa Pier was closed for two days. In June, the beach between Upper Newport Bay to the Newport Dunes was closed for four days after 54,700 gallons of sewage spilled.

sarah.peters@latimes.com

Twitter: @speters01

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