Heal the Bay Releases 2010 Beach Report Card; First, the Good News for Orange County

Heal-the-Bay_Report.jpg
Heal the Bay, the 13,000-member strong clean water advocacy group that started 25 years ago to demand action on Santa Monica Bay pollution and now monitors the entire California coastline, released its annual Beach Report Card Wednesday.  
 
There are some positive trends when it comes to ocean waters off Orange County, which scored high marks on the report you can access here.

For the first time, Heal the Bay included a "Dry Weather Honor Roll," which singles out beaches with year-round dry weather grades of perfect A+'s.
 
"These beaches had zero exceedances of state bacterial standards for ocean water quality during dry
weather throughout the entire time frame of this report," states the introduction. "These beaches demonstrated that superb water quality can be found in areas impacted by wildlife, but without anthropogenic sources of fecal bacteria."

Orange County is loaded with such beaches, which are listed after the jump . . .

2009-2010 ANNUAL BEACH REPORT CARD HONOR ROLL
Seal Beach, projection of 14th Street
Surfside Beach, projection of Sea Way
Sunset Beach, projection of Broadway
Newport Bay, Newport Dunes - middle
Newport Bay, Abalone Avenue Beach
Newport Bay, Park Avenue Beach
Newport Bay, 10th Street Beach
Newport Bay, Alvarado/ Bay Isle Beach
Newport Bay, N Street Beach
Newport Bay, Rocky Point Beach
Crystal Cove
Treasure Island Sign
Aliso Creek - 1000' north
Laguna Lido Apt.
9th St. 1000 Steps Beach
Ocean Institute Beach

"Orange County displayed quite easily the best dry weather water quality it has seen in the last six years," according to Heal the Bay's report. By contrast, Orange County's wet weather grades were the worst they have been, worse than the state average and worse
than Los Angeles County's for the first time since 2004-2005. (My accompanying post on "the bad news" in the report drills down farther on the this point.)

Back on the positive side, a pilot beach monitoring study using rapid enterococcus methods will be launched this July in OC by the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, the Orange County Department of Health Services, the Orange County Sanitation Districts and other agencies. A primary goal will be to determine if rapid testing methods are ready for every day use to protect public health. 

As Heal the Bay explains in the report, samples will be collected in the early morning five days a week and then taken to a lab for rapid enterococcus measurement techniques. Results may be obtained in as little as two to three hours instead of the typical 18-24 hours that it takes for standard culture based methods.

These results can then be relayed to county health, where risk management assessments can be made and, ultimately, health warning signs could be posted on the infected beach within three to four hours of sample collection.

"This would be a significant step forward to informing the public about water quality at the beach in close to real time," states the Heal the Bay report.

The initial study area will be at nine Orange County locations, including three at Doheny
Beach and three at Huntington Beach. The Orange County environmental group Miocean will post water quality information at two beach screens at Doheny and Huntington beaches as soon as the data is available.

Heal the Bay will provide daily Beach Report Card grades for those beaches if the data is dispersed in a timely manner.
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