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Manhattan Beach Ocean Water Quality Runs Gamut

During the dry summer months, local beaches earned top grades on Heal the Bay's annual report card. In wet weather, one Manhattan Beach location earns an F. L.A. County grades lower due to water sample collection done right in front of storm drains.

Manhattan Beach sea waters received mixed marks in Heal the Bay’s annual beach report card. All three monitored beach areas received A grades for dry summer weather (April-Oct.), with the water taken from the MB Pier storm drain faring the best year-round with an A for dry winter weather (Nov.-March) and a B in wet weather year-round.

The beach at 40th Street also received an A for dry winter weather and then a C in wet weather.

Samples taken at the 28th Street storm drain received a B in dry winter weather and an F in wet weather year-round.

The Santa Monica-based nonprofit released its annual beach report card that shows 82 percent of L.A. beaches earning A or B grades during the dry months between April and October, a seven percent improvement over last year, but still well below the statewide average of 92 percent.

“That’s good news for L.A. beach-goers at a majority of beach locations,” said Heal the Bay Water Quality Director Kirsten James.

Heal the Bay attributed the improvement to ongoing infrastructure improvements, mainly storm water diversion systems that keep bacteria-laden runoff from washing into the ocean. 

A press conference held to announce the results of the 2011-12 report card took place at the beach in Pacific Palisades, where construction is underway on an $8 million diversion system.

The report grades more than 650 locations from San Diego County to Whatcom County, WA, in the summer dry weather and more than 300 locations year-round on an A-to-F scale. Beaches that earn As and Bs pose less of a health risk to swimmers, who can get sick with the stomach flu, ear infections and skin rashes when water quality is poor.

“No beach should make you sick,” James said.            

All county health departments are required to test beach water quality samples for three types of indicator bacteria at least once a week during the summer season. Heal the Bay compiles the data, analyzes it and assigns the letter grades.

Heal the Bay said one of the reasons Los Angeles County beaches score lower than their neighbors in Orange and Ventura, is because their monitoring agencies collect samples directly in front of storm drains and creeks that channel runoff into the ocean. Orange and Ventura counties monitor 25 yards or more away from those sources.

A handful of significantly polluted beaches helped drag down L.A. county’s overall grades, most notably in Malibu. The city claimed four of the 10 spots on the Heal the Bay’s Beach Bummer list, a ranking of the 10 most polluted beaches in the state: Puerco Beach, Dan Blocker, Surfrider and Escondido. Other county sites on the top 10 list "beach bummers" are Topanga State Beach and the harbor side of Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.

In total, 11 beaches in L.A. County received F grades during the summer, up from last year’s nine.

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