L.A. beaches get worst grades in state

SANTA MONICA, Calif. The 2009 End of Summer Beach Report Card gave 458 beaches along the California coast different grades ranging from an A to F. The grades were given based on bacterial pollution reported beginning on Memorial Day and ending on Labor Day.

For the summer of 2009, a whopping 92 percent of beaches received A or B grades. Last year, 91 percent of beaches received high marks.

Out of the almost 500 sites studied, only 36 received fair-to-poor water quality grades, which accounts for about 8 percent of the graded beaches.

Twenty-one beaches received failing grades.

Los Angeles County received some of the lowest summer grades. Only 80 percent of its 81 beaches got an A or B mark. Ten L.A. County beaches earned Fs.

Santa Monica Bay beaches did well this year with 91 percent earning As and Bs.

In Long Beach, about 40 percent of the beaches monitored received grades of C or lower. Last year, that figure was 48 percent.

Orange County fared well in this year's report with 102 out of 103 monitored beaches given an A or B grade. Overall water quality at beaches throughout Ventura County also scored high.

Heal the Bay points to the state's drought for cutting down on rainfall totals which in turn reduced the amount of polluted urban runoff from making its way into the Pacific Ocean.

But despite the high marks, advocates for the environment are urging people to stay vigilant.

"We can't become complacent in our efforts to improve water quality in the summer season," Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay, said in a statement. "We need long-term funding for beach monitoring and to ensure that problem beaches are safe for swimming every summer."

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