L.A., O.C. beaches top state's worst list in new report

Aided by the unusually wet winter, Los Angeles and Orange counties combined to earn five spots on a list of the state's 10 beaches with the worst water quality, according to a study released Wednesday by an environmental group.

The beach at San Clemente Pier in Orange County topped the Beach Bummer List, which was released as part of Heal the Bay's 29th annual Beach Report Card. Monarch Beach at Salt Creek was the other Orange County beach to land on the dubious list, placing sixth.

Long Beach City Beach at Coronado Avenue was rated fourth worst as it made its first-ever appearance on the Beach Bummer List. After a one-year absence, Mothers Beach in Marina del Rey returned to this year's list in seventh place, followed in eighth place by Harborside Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.

But the news wasn't all bad in the report, which assigns letter grades to beaches throughout California based on water quality. Orange County had 10 beaches listed on the group's Honor Roll, a distinction reserved for beaches that receive an A+ grade for all seasons and weather conditions. A total of 33
out of 500 beaches earned spots on the list.

Three San Clemente beaches made the Honor Roll, along with three in Dana Point, two in Huntington Harbor and one each in Corona del Mar in Laguna Beach.

Los Angeles County earned two spots on the Honor Roll -- down from eight last year. The ocean side of Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro made the grade, as did Las Tunas County Beach at Pena Creek in Malibu.

Three other Malibu beaches fell off the Honor Roll from last year, as did three in Palos Verdes.

Heal the Bay officials noted in the report that the massive Woolsey Fire contributed to a drop in water quality in Malibu. According to the group, wildfires increase runoff due to the loss of vegetation and infrastructure damage.

According to the report, 95 percent of Southern California beaches received A or B grades for water quality during the dry summer weather. But it emphasized the negative impact of wildfires and rainy weather during the winter across the state.

"California experienced a disproportionate amount of rain and wildfires over the last year, which came with below-average wet-weather grades in 13 our of 17 coastal counties and far below average grades at Malibu beaches where the Woolsey Fire burned," according to the report.

The report calls on the state to improve efforts to capture stormwater and treat it for reuse instead of allowing it to run into the ocean.

CNS contributed to this report