Heal the Bay has released their 2023 annual “Beach Report Card & River Report Card. The scientific report measures bacterial-pollution rankings for hundreds of beaches in California. 96% of the Southern California beaches assessed by Heal the Bay received an A or B grade.
All county health departments are required to test beach water quality samples for three types of indicator bacteria at least once a week during the peak summer season (April-October). Heal the Bay compiles the complex shoreline data, analyzes it, and assigns an easy-to-understand letter grade.
2023 Clean Beach Honor Roll List
This year, only two out of over 500 monitored beaches made it on the Honor Roll compared to 51 last year. The unprecedented amount of rain that fell across California during the 2022–2023 winter led to an enormous dip in water quality and a very short Honor Roll list.
- Point Loma, Lighthouse (San Diego)
- Bean Hollow State Beach (San Mateo)
Read the full 2023 Report.
2022 Clean Beach Honor Roll List
About 700 California beaches were tested for this report and 50 qualified for the honor roll, logged clean water-quality marks. 19 of the 51 beaches on the list are located in Orange County, up from 10 last year.
- Dana Point Harbor Youth Dock
- Dana Point Harbor Guest Dock
- Poche Beach
- Doheny Beach
- Doheny State Beach, end of the park
- Doheny State Beach, at last campground
- Corona Del Mar
- Crystal Cove
- Marine Science Institute Beach
- Dana Point, Capistrano County Beach
- Doheny State Beach, Pedestrian Bridge
- Dana Strands Beach
- Huntington City Beach, at 17th Street
- Bolsa Chica Reserve, at Flood Gates
- Surfside Beach, at Sea Way
- San Clemente, at Avenida Calafia
- Salt Creek Beach
- Laguna Lido
- Treasure Island Beach
Clean Beach Bummer List
Only one beach in Orange County made the list of dirtiest beaches to swim, low water-quality marks.
- Poche Beach (2771 N El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA)
Poche Beach receives polluted runoff from a storm drain that flows directly onto the beach. Equipment designed to clean runoff from the storm drain was running at partial capacity in summer 2022, which was likely the cause. Heal the Bay states that “it may be time for Orange County to reassess its water quality improvement strategy for this beach since it is no stranger to the Beach Bummer list.”
Beach Report Card App & Tool
Visit BeachReportCard.org to view the latest California beach water quality results plus any alerts. Android and Apple apps are also available for download. This tool that lets you search for the latest water quality information at your favorite beach. Simply enter the location of a beach in the search bar or play around with the map to find water quality information for beaches near you.
Beach Report Card Grades
Beach Report Card grades follow the familiar A-F school grading system and are calculated for each location in California based on exceedances of state water quality standards. Grades are an overall indicator of water quality at the beach during the associated grade period. Simply put, the higher the grade a beach receives, the better the water quality at that beach, and the lower the risk of getting sick from water contact. Use the ‘Grades’ filter at the top to display only Beach Report Card grades.
- A + (100 points): Excellent, with no exceedance of thresholds over the grading time period.
- A (90-99 points): Excellent
- B (80-89 points): Very Good
- C (70-79 points): Average
- D (60-69 points): Poor
- F (<=59 points): Very Poor
- ns – no sample: No samples for the grading period are available
Polluted ocean water can present a major health risk for swimmers and surfers. People who enter water receiving a C grade or lower in Heal the Bay’s report are at higher risk of illnesses including stomach flu, upper respiratory infections, rashes and debilitating ear, nose and throat infections.
One in 25 beachgoers will get sick swimming or surfing in polluted water near a flowing storm drain. Many D and F beaches are near these outfalls. Other poorly performing beaches are frequently near piers or in enclosed marinas and harbors with poor circulation.
Predictive models are being used to forecast daily water quality at select beaches around California. NowCast predictions are made every morning, and are the most up-to-date water quality information available for the beach. Use the ‘NowCast’ filter at the top to display only NowCast predictions.
- Good: Good water quality is predicted today based on the most recent environmental conditions observed by a variety of trusted scientific sources. This means that bacteria levels are not likely to exceed health standards for ocean water contact.
- Poor: Poor water quality is predicted today based on the most recent environmental conditions observed by a variety of trusted scientific sources. This means that bacteria levels are likely to exceed health standards for ocean water contact.
Certain beaches will be under alert due to acute pollution events like significant rainfall and sewage spills. Heal the Bay tracks these events based on information provided by local health agencies.
- Rain Advisory: The beach is under advisory due to significant rainfall in the past 72 hours. Water quality is typically poor at beaches impacted by runoff from rainfall, and it is advised to take caution or avoid swimming at this beach for 3 days after a rain event. Use the ‘Alerts’ filter at the top of the page to display beaches under alert.
- Closure: The beach has been closed by the local health agency
About Beach Report Card
Beach Report Card with NowCast, in partnership with World Surf League, is Heal the Bay’s scientific water quality monitoring program that started in the 1990s. For thirty years, the Beach Report Card has influenced the improvement of water quality by increasing monitoring efforts and helping to enact strong environmental and public health policies.
How to Stay Healthy at the Beach
- Water quality is generally very good during the dry summer months (April to October)
- Wait at least 72 hours after rainfall before you go swimming
- Swim 100 yards away from flowing storm drain outlets (imagine the length of a football field)
- Do not let children play in storm drains or puddles nearby
- Avoid enclosed beaches with poor water circulation – typically lagoons, marinas, “baby beaches” and harbors
- Access the Beach Report Card to find out if your beach is safe
Help keep the beaches clean at a Coastal Cleanup Day event!
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