The good news (for me, at least): I live just a short bike ride away from the beach. The bad news: That beach, while popular, is a pretty polluted mess.

Enviro-nonprofit Heal the Bay released its annual beach report card for California beaches, and the beach nearest me — Santa Monica Municipal Pier — was named and shamed as one of “The Top 10 Beach Bummers.” Santa Monica’s beach earned a nice fat F for pollution, along with 22 other beaches.

The F could mean health problems for those who decide to enjoy a dip in these beaches. According to Heal the Bay:

The lower the grade, the greater the health risk. Potential illnesses include stomach flu, ear infection, upper respiratory infection and major skin rash (full body).
However, announcing bad news can apparently have some good results. According to the L.A. Times, “Heal the Bay data analyst Mike Grimmer said spotlighting water-quality problems has spurred action: At least seven ‘bummer’ sites have been allocated funds for pollution reduction under the state’s clean beach initiative. Santa Monica, for example, Wednesday turned on a new pump at the pier intended to redirect runoff to a recycling facility.”

Those funds are especially necessary since Gov. Schwarzenegger cut nearly $1 million from state beach monitoring funds last year, forcing monitoring agencies to scramble for alternative funding — or monitoring less or not at all. According to the report card, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties were most affected — which means the report card doesn’t even have grades for many beach locations in those counties.

That’s rather frightening news. On the upside, among the beaches that were monitored, 85% received As and Bs.  Planning a summer vacation in California? Stick to the cleaner beaches — and take note of the most polluted ones below. You can also check Heal the Bay’s site closer to when you visit to get the latest grades on the beaches you’re interested in.

The Top 10 Beach Bummers
1. Avalon Harbor Beach on Catalina Island (Los Angeles County)
2. Cabrillo Beach harborside (Los Angeles County)
3. Pismo Beach Pier (San Luis Obispo County)
4. Colorado Lagoon (Los Angeles County)
5. Santa Monica Municipal Pier (Los Angeles County)
6. City of Long Beach at LA River outlet (Los Angeles County)
7. Poche Beach (Orange County)
8. Surfrider Beach at Malibu Creek (Los Angeles County)
9. Campbell Cove State Park Beach (Sonoma County)
10. Doheny Beach at San Juan Creek (Orange County)









Image: Courtesy Heal the Bay

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