A new study shows that the central coast has some of the cleanest beaches in the state, but also one of the dirtiest.
An annual report published by Heal the Bay, a nonprofit water quality monitoring organization, ranked beaches along the Pacific coast based on levels of pollution from fecal bacteria.
” It’s a big problem. [Fecal indicator bacteria] causes tens of thousands of people to get sick every year in California and it costs people tens of millions of dollars in health care costs for the doctor and the pharmacy, ”said Luke Ginger, a quality scientist at the water at Heal the Bay.
Using an “A” to “F” letter scoring system, the Beach Report Card scores water samples taken in summer, dry winter and rainy season.
Morro Bay City Beach, Silver Shoal, Pismo State Beach (north of the pier) in San Luis Obispo County and Guadalupe Dunes and El Capitan State Beach in Santa Barbara County were on the Honor Roll.
This is the third year that Guadalupe Dunes has secured a spot on the coveted list.
To earn a place on the Honor Roll, a beach must be lifeguarded weekly all year round and must receive an A + for all seasons and weather conditions.
According to the Beach Report Card, 100% of beaches in San Luis Obispo County achieved “A” and “B” ratings and 95% maintained those ratings for an average of five years.
94% of Santa Barbara County beaches received “A” and “B” ratings last summer with a five-year average of 95%.
“It’s nice, nice to have this honor,” said Shell Beach resident Ed Sardella. “We love it here and we walk the beach almost every day.”
However, East Beach in Santa Barbara failed the test for the first time, ranking 10th on the “Beach Bummer” list as one of the dirtiest beaches studied in the state.
“The probable source of pollution is the [Mission Creek] itself running through the Santa Barbara area and probably picking up pollutants along the way, ”Ginger said. “I’m willing to bet that there are storm sewers going into it and adding pollution to this stream.”
According to Heal the Bay, Arroyo Burro was the last Bummer Beach in Santa Barbara County in 2011.
Ginger recommends that you do not swim in the water on beaches with poor water quality.
On the cleaner beaches, many families look forward to summer fun this weekend.
“A lot of families come here with their babies, with their children and it’s beautiful, it’s all beautiful,” said Karina Fuentes, who was visiting Pismo Beach from Mexico on Friday.
These reports give a good overview, but if a beach gets a bad rating, it doesn’t have to be fixed, according to Heal the Bay. It would be up to counties and local towns to continue testing and making the waters safer.
Click here for the full report.