Orange County Beaches Still Relatively Clean Despite NRDC's Tougher Testing Standards

Categories: Environment

Natural Resources Defense Council
Move over, Bolsa Chica State Beach, an NRDC "Superstar" beach in 2012. A beach in an adjoining city is the newest Superstar.

As we recently reported, Orange County did well in Heal the Bay's beach water quality report, as most of our beaches usually do, although they were helped by a lack of rainfall and the resulting lack of polluted runoff from storm drains and other sources. Now comes the Natural Resources Defense Council's similar report and we're still looking fine. Mostly.

Great Memorial Day Weekend Beach Season Kickoff News: Poche Beach is Less Stinky!

There was a big difference in the 24th annual report released today, "Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches." (Read the full report here: In the reports from 2009-12, the NRDC relied on a weaker national standard for testing. The latest report, which actually covers tests taken in 2013, uses the Environmental Protection Agency's Beach Action Value (BAV), the most protective benchmark for assessing swimmer safety.

Natural Resources Defense Council
Keep in mind tougher standards were used for California's 2013 bar.

The latest "Testing the Waters" found California ranked 11th in beach water quality (out of 30 states), with 9 percent of the Golden State's samples exceeding the national BAV. Only one Orange County beach ranked among the worst of these: Newport Bay at Newport Boulevard Bridge with a whopping 44% BAV.

Meanwhile, in the same city, Newport Beach's 38th Street made the list of 35 "Superstar" beaches around the country, so designated because they are so clean historically. With 50 samples taken in 2013, 38th Street had a 0 percent BAV.

In other good news, Poche County Beach in San Clemente did not make NRDC's list of "Repeat Offenders," as it has in the past for the water being so polluted. (As we pointed out in the Heal the Bay story, officials have made a concerted effort to clean Poche.)

But keep in mind when taking the full report in that some beaches had less than 10 samples taken, although dozens and dozens had 50 to 100 or more samples taken, and several of those are in Orange County. What follows are the beaches with double or triple digits in the number of samples taken and their zero percent BAV, making them the cleanest of the clean:

Bolsa Chica Beach (51, 0%); Crystal Cove State Park, Pelican Point, Downcoast (41, 0%); Crystal Cove State Park, Muddy Creek Upcoast (21, 0%); Dana Point Harbor, Guest Dock (31, 0%); Dana Point Harbor, Fuel Dock (31, 0%); Dana Point Harbor, Pilgrim Dock (31, 0%); Dana Point Harbor, Pier (31, 0%); Dana Point Harbor, Harbor Patrol Dock (31, 0%); Huntington City Beach, Jack's Snack Bar (51, 0%).

Also, Newport Bay, Rocky Point (52, 0%); Newport Bay, Promontory Point (53, 0%); Newport Bay, Park Avenue (52, 0%); Newport Bay, Lancaster/32nd Street (31, 0%); Newport Bay, Bayshore Beach (52, 0%); Newport Bay, 19th Street (52, 0%); Newport Beach, The Wedge (50, 0%); Newport Beach, 38th Street (50, 0%); Newport Beach, Via Genoa (52, 0%); San Clemente City Beach, T-Street Beach Downcoast (37, 0%); South Laguna, Laguna Lido Apartments (100, 0%); Sunset Beach, Broadway (51, 0%).

You know how we hate to bring up the negative here at the Weekly, but here are the beaches with double or triple digits in samples and double digits in percentage of BAV:

Aliso Beach, Middle (12%); Capistrano Beach, South Outfall (11%); Dana Point Harbor, Baby Beach Buoy Line (18%); Dana Point Harbor, Baby Beach East End (12%); Dana Point Harbor, Baby Beach Swim Area (31%); Dana Point Harbor, Baby Beach West End (11%); Dana Point Harbor, North Beach Downcoast (18%); Doheny State Beach, 2,000-foot Outfall (24%); Doheny State Beach, North Beach (30%); Doheny State Beach, North of San Juan Creek (18%); Huntington Harbour, Anderson Street Marina (17%); Huntington Harbour, Humboldt Beach (15%).

Also, Huntington State Beach, Brookhurst (10%); Newport Bay, 33rd Street (14%); Newport Bay, Alvarado/Bay Island (12%); Newport Bay, Bayside Drive Beach (13%); Newport Bay, Newport Boulevard Bridge (44%); Newport Bay, Newport Dunes East (10%); Newport Bay, Newport Dunes West (11%); Newport Bay, Vaughn Island (15%); Newport Beach, Little Corona (12%); Newport Beach, Little Corona Downcoast (21%); Poche County Beach (20%); San Clemente City Beach, North Beach (11%); Sunset Beach, Surfside, 1st Street (26%).

Since 10 percent of all monitoring samples nationwide exceeded the EPA's BAV, the NRDC is recommending cleaning runoff and other waters flowing into beaches, rivers and streams and the promotion of more wetlands, which serve as filters for the ocean.

If you did not see your favorite Orange County beach reflected in the good and bad collections above, check out the full list on the next page ...

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