At the foot of the wooden Imperial Beach pier on a gray Wednesday morning, environmental group Heal the Bay issued San Diego County’s annual report card for water quality at its beaches. There was some good news and some not-so-good news.
Good news first: San Diego County just missed a spot on this year’s honor roll, receiving the highest marks for beach water quality in summer months in five years.
According to the 19th annual beach report card from Heal the Bay, water at county beaches during dry weather months was excellent. Out of the county’s 93 beaches examined by Heal the Bay’s analysts, 97 percent received A’s for dry-weather water quality.
“Summer beachgoers in San Diego enjoyed near-perfect water quality last year,” read the report card.
While the county received some scores high enough for proud-parent bumper stickers, there was some red ink in there as well.
Due to the state’s budget fiasco, the county dismissed its beach water-monitoring program last September after losing the state funds that pay for the program. A few months later, the board of supervisors provided $100,000 to reinstate the program.
“Cutbacks in data collection not only jeopardize public-health safeguards for the many swimmers and surfers who re-create in San Diego’s temperate waters year-round, they also make it impossible for Heal the Bay to conduct meaningful trend analysis of San Diego beaches over time,” read the report card.
Out of the 39 beaches where samples were collected during the wet winter months, 14 received poor to failing grades. The worst were OB’s Dog Beach, Buccaneer Beach in Oceanside, the Tijuana Slough, and along Coronado’s Silver Strand.
“Nonetheless,” concludes the report card, “beachgoers throughout San Diego can generally feel very secure during the summer season. The county has been able to resurrect monitoring at 18 of the most popular beaches in San Diego this summer. If ocean users swim at an open beach at least 100 yards away from a storm drain, creek, or pier, it’s extremely unlikely they will contact an illness.”
To read the full report, go to healthebay.org.