Report Ranks Santa Monica Pier As Dirtiest Beach In California

June 16, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The beach area located under the Santa Monica Pier was the dirtiest beach in California last year according to an annual water quality report released on Wednesday, June 14.   

For over 30 years, Heal the Bay, a non-profit environmental research group has assessed the water quality of 700 beaches from Washington state to Tijuana, Mexico, releasing an annual summary of the results. The 2022 to 2023 report covered over 500 California beaches. 

The beaches are assigned an A-to-F letter grade based on levels of fecal-indicator bacterial pollution in the ocean measured by County health agencies. According to Heal the Bay, people who come in contact with water with a C grade or lower are at a greater risk of contracting illnesses such as stomach flu, ear infections, upper respiratory infections, and rashes.

In 2022, the beach under the Santa Monica Pier received an F, making it the lowest-graded beach in California. The site is monitored by The City of Los Angeles Environmental Monitoring Division.

The dirtiest California beaches in 2022 were:

  1. Santa Monica Pier (Los Angeles County)
  2. Linda Mar Beach (San Mateo County)
  3. Marlin Park (San Mateo County)
  4. Erckenbrack Park (San Mateo County)
  5. Tijuana River Mouth (San Diego County)
  6. Pillar Point Harbor at Capistrano Avenue (San Mateo County)
  7. Marina del Rey Mother’s Beach (Los Angeles County)
  8. Poche Beach (Orange County)
  9. Gull Park (San Mateo County)

California’s wet winter in 2022 contributed to worse water quality; a higher amount of rainfall increases the number of pollutants that flow through storm drains and rivers into the ocean. Heavy rainfall can also cause sewage lines to overflow and spill over.  

According to Heal the Bay’s report, in 2022, 45 million gallons of sewage were spilled, contaminating beaches across the state. Heal the Bay urges local officials to upgrade sewage infrastructure and public notification protocols to ensure the safety of beachgoers.

“As climate change continues to bring weather whiplash, our water woes will swing from scarcity to pollution. This year, record precipitation produced major impacts on water quality across Coastal California,” said Tracy Quinn, President and CEO of Heal the Bay in a statement. 

“Now more than ever, we must prioritize multi-benefit projects to manage stormwater as both a water quality and supply solution, all while ensuring that the public is kept informed of risks to public health.”

The Heal the Bay annual report provides a list of “Honor Roll” beaches that are monitored weekly over the course of the year, receiving an A+ cleanliness score during all seasons. This year only two of the 500 California beaches monitored made the list: Point Loma Lighthouse Beach in San Diego and Bean Hollow State Beach in San Mateo County. In comparison, 51 beaches made the list last year. 

The public can view the updated water quality reports of local California beaches at beachreportcard.org or by downloading the app. 

By Paige Strickland

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