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Annual Beach Pollution Report by NRDC: 2013 Best and Worst Beaches

Beach Pollution Report

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s 23rd annual beach water quality report, most of America's popular beaches have serious water pollution issues.

The report, “Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches,” is a collection of the latest beach water quality data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from more than 3,000 testing locations nationwide.

The 23rd annual beach report reports high bacteria levels in the water caused beach closings or advisories on a cumulative 20,000-plus days in 2012.

“Sewage and contaminated runoff in the water can spoil a family vacation real fast, turning a day of lounging at the beach into a day at the doctor’s office with a sick child,” said NRDC senior attorney Jon Devine.

Exposure to bacteria, viruses and parasites in contaminated water can cause symptoms and diseases ranging from ear, nose, and eye infections, diarrhea, vomiting, hepatitis, encephalitis, skin rashes, and respiratory illnesses. Children, the elderly, pregnant women, cancer patients and those with weakened immune systems are the most likely to get sick from swimming in contaminated water.

"Swimming in contaminated water can cause a host of maladies from gastrointestinal ailments to pinkeye, though linking an illness to a day at the beach is extremely under reported," Devine said. "People don't know that water can contain viruses, bacteria and other parasites that make you sick. And when they get sick they don't associate the two."

You can reduce your risk of getting sick by following these tips:

  • Pay attention to contamination and advisory warnings and stay out of polluted water
  • Avoid swimming at beaches with nearby discharge pipes or at urban beaches after heavy rainfall
  • Stay out of murky or foul-smelling water
  • Avoid beachwater if you have an open wound or infection
  • Swim without putting your head under water

NRDC awards up to five stars to 200 popular vacation beaches based on low violation rates, frequent water testing and prompt public notification when there is a problem.

The five-star Beach winners:

Alabama: Gulf Shores Public Beach in Baldwin County

Alabama: Gulf State Park Pavilion in Baldwin County

California: Bolsa Chica Beach in Orange County

California: Newport Beach in Orange County (2 of 3 monitored sections)

California: San Clemente State Beach in Orange County

Delaware: Dewey Beach - Dagsworthy in Sussex County

Delaware: Rehoboth Beach in Sussex County

Maryland: Ocean City at Beach 6 in Worcester County

Michigan: Bay City State Recreation Area in Bay County

Minnesota: Park Point Franklin Park / 13th Street South Beach Park Point in St. Louis County

Minnesota: Lafayette Community Club Beach in St. Louis County

• New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park in Rockingham County

New Hampshire: Wallis Sands Beach in Rockingham County

The 11 repeat offenders -- beaches where water samples exceeded public health standards more than 25% of the time from 2008-2012:

· California: Avalon Beach in Los Angeles County (4 of 5 monitored sections)

· California: Doheny State Beach in Orange County (6 of 7 monitored sections)

· California: Poche County Beach in Orange County

· Indiana: Jeorse Park Beach in Lake County

· New Jersey: Beachwood Beach in Ocean County

· New York: Ontario Beach in Monroe County

· Ohio: Lakeshore Park in Ashtabula County

· Ohio: Euclid State Park in Cuyahoga County

· Ohio: Villa Angela State Park in Cuyahoga County

· Ohio: Edson Creek in Erie County

· Wisconsin: South Shore Beach in Milwaukee County

For the second year, NRDC has a searchable by zipcode map that enables vacationers to check recent water-quality information.

Best and Worst Beaches in Florida:

County Beach Name Stars % of samples exceeding national standards Monitoring frequency Posts closings/ advisories online and at beach Posts advisories without resampling
2012 2011 2010
Florida
Bay Laguna Beach 19.0 % 7.7 % 1.9 % 2/month yes yes
Bay Panama City Beach Pier (Edgewater Beach) 5.3 % 12.8 % 1.9 % 2/month yes yes
Bay Seltzer Park (Silver Sands Beach) 5.3 % 2.6 % 0.0 % 2/month yes yes
Brevard Cocoa Beach (all combined) - Monitoring stations at this beach:
Cocoa Beach Minuteman Causeway 0.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 2/month yes no
Cocoa Beach Pier 5.3 % 4.9 % 12.5 % 2/month yes no
Brevard Pelican Beach Park 0.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 2/month yes no
Broward John Lloyd State Park 0.0 % 0.0 % 1.9 % 2/month yes no
Dade Collins Park-21st Street 3.7 % 1.9 % 7.0 % 1/week yes no
Dade South Beach Park 1.9 % 1.9 % 1.9 % 1/week yes no
Escambia Pensacola (Casino) Beach 0.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 2/month yes no
Escambia Quietwater Beach (Santa Rosa Sound) 0.0 % 2.5 % 0.0 % 2/month yes no
Franklin St. George Island Franklin Street 0.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 2/month yes yes
Gulf St. Joe Beach - Monitoring stations at this beach:
Dixie Belle Beach 29.4 % 8.1 % 3.8 % 2/month yes no
Monument Beach 72.2 % 12.2 % 22.0 % 2/month yes no
St. Joe Beach 31.6 % 2.6 % 3.7 % 2/month yes no
Hillsborough Gulf Beaches of Tampa Bay - Monitoring stations at this beach:
Simmons Park 6.5 % 5.6 % 1.9 % 1/week yes no
Bahia Beach 6.5 % 10.5 % 5.6 % 1/week yes no
Ben T. Davis North 12.8 % 19.6 % 13.3 % 1/week yes no
Ben T. Davis South 17.0 % 12.1 % 12.3 % 1/week yes no
Cypress Point North 6.5 % 1.9 % 3.7 % 1/week yes no
Cypress Point South 8.7 % 1.9 % 8.8 % 1/week yes no
Davis Island 8.7 % 7.3 % 8.8 % 1/week yes no
Picnic Island North 9.3 % 7.1 % 8.6 % 1/week yes no
Picnic Island South 6.8 % 12.5 % 3.8 % 1/week yes no
Lee Bowman's Beach 0.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 1/week yes no
Lee Lovers Key State Park 0.0 % 3.7 % 0.0 % 1/week yes no
Lee Sanibel Lighthouse Park Beach 0.0 % 1.9 % 5.6 % 1/week yes no
Manatee Coquina Beach - Monitoring stations at this beach:
Coquina Beach North 0.0 % 2.3 % 7.7 % 2/month yes no
Coquina Beach South 0.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 2/month yes no
Monroe Bahia Honda Oceanside 0.0 % 0.0 % 11.5 % 2/month yes yes
Monroe John Pennekamp State Park Cannon Beach 7.7 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 2/month yes yes
Okaloosa Brackin Wayside 19.5 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 1/week yes no
Okaloosa Henderson State Park Beach 14.6 % 1.9 % 0.0 % 1/week yes no
Pinellas Sand Key/Indian Rocks Beach - Monitoring stations at this beach:
Indian Rocks Beach 7.4 % 2.3 % 3.6 % 2/month yes no
Sand Key 7.4 % 4.4 % 1.8 % 2/month yes no
Pinellas Fort Desoto North Beach 0.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 2/month yes no
Pinellas Honeymoon Island Beach 3.8 % 2.2 % 1.9 % 2/month yes no
Pinellas Madeira Beach 7.4 % 2.3 % 0.0 % 2/month yes no
Pinellas Pass-A-Grille Beach 0.0 % 2.3 % 0.0 % 2/month yes no
Pinellas Treasure Island Beach 0.0 % 4.4 % 3.7 % 2/month yes no
Santa Rosa Navarre Beach - Monitoring stations at this beach:
Navarre Beach Pier 0.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 2/month yes no
Navarre Beach West 5.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 2/month yes no
Navarre Park 9.5 % 11.6 % 1.9 % 2/month yes no
Sarasota Lido Beach - Monitoring stations at this beach:
Lido Casino Beach 15.7 % 1.9 % 3.9 % 1/week yes no
North Lido Beach 1.9 % 1.9 % 0.0 % 1/week yes no
South Lido Beach 0.0 % 3.7 % 2.0 % 1/week yes no
Sarasota Venice Beach - Monitoring stations at this beach:
Venice Fishing Pier 3.6 % 1.9 % 2.0 % 1/week yes no
Venice Public Beach 6.7 % 16.7 % 3.9 % 1/week yes no
Sarasota Siesta Key Public Beach 7.7 % 7.1 % 3.8 % 1/week yes no
Volusia Main, Daytona Beach 0.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 2/month yes yes
Walton Dune Allen Beach Access 11.1 % 2.5 % 0.0 % 2/month yes no
Walton Eastern Lake Beach Access 17.5 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 2/month yes no
Walton Grayton Beach Access 26.2 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 2/month yes no
Walton Holly Street Beach Access 27.9 % 0.0 % 1.9 % 2/month yes no

The Clean Water Act Protects More Than Water

Clean and plentiful water provides the foundation for prosperous communities. We rely on clean water to survive, yet right now we are heading towards a water crisis.

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