The Southland’s recent drought-like conditions have a silver lining — improved beach water quality, according to a report released Thursday by the environmental group Heal the Bay.
Less rain has meant less bacterial pollution flowing into the ocean over the past 12 months, according to Heal the Bay’s 28th annual Beach Report Card.
About 95 percent of the beaches monitored in Southern California received A grades during the busy summer season, a 5 percent jump from the reporting period’s five-year average.
Adding to the good news is the record 37 statewide shorelines receiving a perfect A-plus score from Heal the Bay in 2017-18, the most ever reported.
Eight of those beaches are in Los Angeles County, four in Malibu, three on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and one in El Segundo.
On the flip side, three Southland beaches landed on the top 10 list of Beach Bummers: San Pedro’s Cabrillo Beach on the harbor side, which has made the list eight of the past 10 years; the Santa Monica Pier, which has had the dubious distinction seven times in the past decade; and, ranking worst in the state, Poche Beach at the ocean outlet in San Clemente.
Another frequent Beach Bummer, Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey, dropped off the top 10 list for the first time since 2013, receiving an A during the summer and during dry winter months, but an F during rainy periods.
About 97 percent of Los Angeles County beaches received A or B grades, rated by the levels of weekly bacterial pollution.
Heal the Bay researchers said they are concerned about the long-range prognosis for beach water quality, due to California’s tendency toward boom-or-bust rain cycles.
In the previous reporting period, heavy winter rains washed billions of gallons of bacteria-laden runoff into Southland beach regions, carrying such pollutants as trash, fertilizer, pet waste, metal and automotive fluids into storm drains and ultimately to the ocean, according to the group.
Heal the Bay long has pushed for aggressive efforts to capture storm water before it reaches the ocean, noting that the strategy would both improve ocean water quality and decrease the need for imported water.
The storm water could be used for landscape water or could be introduced to groundwater aquifers. The group is backing a bid to place a measure on Los Angeles County’s November ballot for public funding of infrastructure for capturing more storm water.
The full report can be found at www.beachreportcard.org .