The water quality at Southern California’s beaches continues to show improvement, with most monitoring locations earning A or B grades on Heal the Bay's 2012 End of Summer Beach Report Card.
Statewide beaches that received A and B grades jumped from 92 percent in the summer of 2011 to 96 percent this summer. Venice Beach at Topsail Street exceeded safe health levels only two times from April 1 to Sept. 3.
"This is the third year in row that the chronically polluted Santa Monica Pier earned a much improved A grade," the nonprofit said Tuesday in a statement.
The newest report card showed California experienced once of its cleanest summers. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, 96 percent of sampled sites were awarded A or B grades, a 4 percent improvement from the prior year, according to Heal the Bay.
Heal the Bay assigned an A-to-F letter grade to 446 beaches along the California coast, based on bacteria data collected by local health agencies from Humboldt through San Diego counties. The better the grade a location received, the lower the risk of illness to beach-goers, it said.
An annual report card released in May showed most of the beaches in Los Angeles, including Santa Monica, received failing grades during rainy months because stormwater diversion systems can't typically capture all of the polluted runoff that gushes into the ocean.
Even during the summer, however, Avalon Beach and two Los Angeles County sites received poor water quality grades: the Malibu Pier (50 yards east) and inner Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.