3 Orange County Beaches are Cleanest of the Clean in U.S. (and 2 are Dirtiest of the Dirty)

Categories: Environment

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a report identifying three California beaches with "Superstar" ratings, meaning they are among the cleanest of the clean nationwide.

All three are in Orange County.

The NRDC also listed three California beaches that may have you slipping into a hazmat suit before venturing into their surf.

Two are in OC.

First, because you all know I'm a glass half full (of bourbon) kinda guy, here are the clean beaches:

All photos courtest of Flickr/nrdc_media
Bolsa Chica State Beach

  • Bolsa Chica State Beach
  • Newport Beach (2 of 3 monitored sections: 38th Street and 52nd/53rd Street)
  • San Clemente State Beach (2 of 2 monitored sections: Avenida Calafia, which is shown in the opening page Flickr/nrdc_media photo, and Las Palmeras)

Only 13 of 200 beaches around the country received "Superstar" status in the NRDC report titled "Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches."

There were 11 "Repeat Offenders" or places that have chronically tested for high bacteria counts. California's three bad beaches are:

Poche County Beach
  • Avalon Beach on Santa Catalina Island in Los Angeles County (4 of 5 monitored sections: 100 feet west of the Green Pleasure Pier, 50 feet east of the Green Pleasure Pier, 50 feet west of the Green Pleasure Pier and East of the Casino Arch at the steps)
  • Doheny State Beach in Dana Point (6 of 7 monitored sections: 1000' South Outfall, 2000' South Outfall, 3000' South Outfall, North Beach, North of San Juan Creek and Surfzone at Outfall)
  • Poche County Beach in San Clemente

Which means that, yes, San Clemente has beaches with both the cleanest and dirtiest waters in the good ol' USA. Way to go!

The NRDC's 23rd annual beachwater quality report released today actually examined data concerning beach closures last year. California had 5,515 days when its beaches were closed due to polluted water or threatened contamination in 2012, according to the NRDC.

That's obviously a huge chunk of the entire country's more than 20,000 closing and advisory days (for the third consecutive year!). But water quality officials in the Golden State have noted we have more miles of coastline and test more for pollution than other states.

That's not a good enough excuse for Noah Garrison, the NRDC project attorney.

"Despite less rainfall flushing pollution to our coastal waters this year, too many of California's beaches remain a risk for beachgoers," Garrison says in a statement announcing the report's release. "The millions of residents and tourists who flock to California beaches each year are still swimming in dirty water that could cause serious illness. Monitoring is critical to let people know where it's safe to go in the water, but it only goes so far. We need to address the root of the problem, which is mainly polluted storm-water runoff."

Nationally, California ranked 20th in beachwater quality out of 30 states.

There are some places you can go to find out about the water before you dip your toes in:

California State Water Board's Is It Safe To Swim? website.
NRDC California chapter
NRDC tips for a safe trip to the beach
NRDC campaign to reduce marine plastic pollution in California beaches

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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Mitchell_Young topcommenter

There's a really good sandbar break off of Poche, about 1/4 of a mile out. Breaks when swell is 4+. Used to surf it back in the day. Got one hell of a persistent eye infection. 

Janet Jacquier
Janet Jacquier

Bolsa Chica is most like because of the wetlands! Save the wetlands!

Von Henchy
Von Henchy

river Jetties used to own the bacteria counts next to none..are these reportsaccurate. Doheny/SJ Creek and Polio Creek and Aliso Beach in Laguna Bch and Poche's are usually there..not sure how Bolsa Chica made the good list. State Parks in SC is usually pretty good although a runoff comes out just north at Calafia. Newport does seem to be pretty clean.

Chris J Caroselli
Chris J Caroselli

HB..Not for the water, but for the endless barrage of d-bags, bro-ho's, and neo-nazis.

Aron Muro
Aron Muro

I've always liked bolsa chica


"Nationally, California ranked 20th in beach water quality out of 30 states." Given that there are less than 20 states that HAVE beach water (unless you mean lake beaches), that means we are even worse than states that don't have beaches!

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