O.C. beaches rate pretty clean

Only two local areas — Poche Beach in San Clemente and Doheny State Beach in Dana Point — made it to the Top 10 Beach Bummer list.

May 24, 2013|By Jill Cowan

Orange County beachgoers can rest easy knowing that the waters off the Southern California coast are — for the most part — pretty clean, and they seem to be getting cleaner, according to environmental group Heal the Bay's 23rd annual Beach Report Card.

The report, which assigns letter grades to 445 beaches statewide based on their weekly bacterial levels, found that 93% of the beaches monitored in Orange County received A or B ratings during last summer's dry weather period. The beaches are most heavily used during dry summer days, according to the report.

That number drops to 86% during winter dry weather, and to 73% during wet weather, when storm runoff can contribute to higher levels of water pollution. Still, the report noted, in Orange County and statewide, more beaches earned A or B grades than in years past.


Orange County saw nine sewage spills that led to beach closures during the time tracked in the report.

Within the county, eight beaches made the Honor Roll, meaning they consistently had A+ water over the past year. The report card measured grades from last May through the beginning of this month.

Four of the Orange County Honor Roll spots — Lido Beach, 1,000 Steps, Camel Point and Blue Lagoon — are in Laguna Beach.

El Moro Beach in Crystal Cove State Park, between Laguna and Newport Beach, also made top grades, as did The Wedge in Newport and Surfside Beach in Huntington Beach.

Although most Orange County beaches maintained high marks, two made the report's Top 10 Beach Bummer list: Poche Beach and Doheny State Beach, in San Clemente and Dana Point, respectively.

Meanwhile, water quality at a few monitoring spots in Newport Dunes took a tumble from the 2011-12 report card.

While four monitoring spots along the edges of the dunes earned A grades during the summer, they all earned Fs during the wet season, and one — on the west side of the dunes near the area's rental boat dock — also garnered an F during winter dry weather.

That area, though, is at the opposite end of the Dunes from the waterfront resort's designated swim area, said General Manager Andy Theodorou.

"We do everything we can to keep the beaches here clean," he said. "We have a swim area, and the swim area is typically not affected by low grades."

And to a large extent, water quality is at the mercy of Mother Nature, said Orange County Health Care Agency program manager Larry Honeybourne.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles