Venice Beach Gets Straight A's for the Summer

Heal the Bay releases its 2011 End of Summer Beach Report Card, and Venice gets the highest grades possible, while in Los Angeles County, beaches with A or B grades rose from 79 to 85 percent.

All four locations on Venice Beach where water quality was tested over the summer received A+ ratings in Heal the Bay's annual End of Summer Beach Report, released on Tuesday.

Heal the Bay monitors and rates 447 locations in California between Memorial and Labor Day weekends each year for the report. Venice Beach is rated at Rose and Brooks avenues, the Venice Pier, and Topsail Street on the Peninsula.

Last spring, Venice Beach got high marks when it was dry but didn't fare as well after rain. The summer report card did not include any rainy weather.

This summer, 89 percent of Santa Monica Bay beaches earned A or B grades, compared with 87 percent last year. In Los Angeles County, the number of A or B grades rose from 79 to 85 percent of beaches monitored.

The biggest improvement in Los Angeles happened in Long Beach, where all the sites monitored this summer got A or B grades—a first since 1990. Last year, that was only the case with 73 percent of beaches in that area.

"We continue to see water quality improvements at California beaches,” Heal the Bay President said in a statement. “A sustainable source of beach monitoring funding is critical to ensure that we continue to capitalize on these gains and safeguard the public health of millions of ocean users statewide.”

Santa Monica Bay beaches including Malibu Pier, Surfrider Beach and Topanga State Beach were among the ones that earned F grades. Although, in May, near the pier were removed from Heal the Bay's list of "Beach Bummers" on its Beach Report Card.

"A combination of water-quality improvement projects including new storm drain infrastructure, runoff diversion replacement and the installation of bird exclusion nets under part of the pier, may have contributed to the drastically improved grades" in the End of Summer Beach Report Card, Heal the Bay said.

The organization also commended perennial "Beach Bummer" Catalina Island, where the city of of Avalon has set aside more than $5 million to repair a deteriorating sewer system. "Leaky pipes have led to two decades of extremely poor water quality at Catalina Island’s Avalon Beach, a high-traffic summer tourist destination," Heal the Bay said.

However, San Pedro's Cabrillo Beach continued its eight-year streak of earning F grades, despite the city of Los Angeles pouring $15 million into improvement projects.

Ninety-four percent of Orange County beaches earned an A grade, which was slightly worse than last summer, while all 73 beaches monitored in San Diego earned an A or B grade. All 40 Ventura beaches got an A.

While the water quality improved in Southern California this summer, there wasn't a similar uptick statewide. Like last year, 92 percent of California beaches received A or B grades. Nine earned Cs, nine received Ds and 19 got Fs.

Heal the Bay bases its report on weekly water quality monitoring data that is provided by dischargers and health agencies. The methodology behind the Beach Report Card—which the nonprofit calls "is a comprehensive examination of coastal water in California, Oregon and Washington—can be found here

Also, Heal the Bay has announced a soon-to-be-released, free Beach Report Card app through which a comprehensive, weekly analysis of coastline water quality can be accessed. Go here for more information about the app.

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