September 25, 2008
Beaches Pass Report
By Kristin S. Agostoni
The environmental group Heal the Bay released its end-of-summer report card today with mostly high marks for beaches in the South Bay and Harbor Area.
With the exception of a few spots that typically get dinged for poor water quality, including inner Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro and Dockweiler Beach at the Ballona Creek mouth, the grades mean that beachgoers this summer were swimming in clean water.
One problematic area in Redondo Beach showed improvement: the monitoring site south of the pier got an A this summer, up from a B last year and an F the year before.
However, the same spot got an F for its wet weather grade on the more comprehensive annual report card released just before the start of the summer season. Water quality can suffer on rainy days when more stormwater runoff is funneled to the coast.
The end-of-summer report is based on the routine monitoring of beaches by local health agencies and dischargers from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Samples are analyzed for bacteria that point to pollution from various sources, including fecal waste.
The group released its latest report with a bittersweet reaction to the grades assigned to California beaches.
While 91 percent of the 514 monitoring sites earned As or Bs - a figure comparable to last year - that news was tempered by the revelation that a line-item veto in the new state budget eliminates $984,000 for the Beach Safety Program, funded through the Department of Public Health.
Heal the Bay President Mark Gold, who learned of the cut from state officials Wednesday afternoon, said he fears the move will severely curtail water quality monitoring programs if local agencies can't find new funding sources for them.
By using line-item vetos, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger can cancel certain provisions of the budget without vetoing the entire spending plan.
"It's depressing to announce near record water quality at the same time you see the state program that supports it being dismantled," Gold said in a statement.
It was unclear Wednesday what the move will mean for monitoring efforts in Los Angeles County. A spokeswoman with the county Health Department said officials were not aware that programs would be affected.
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