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Study: Area Beaches Need Improvement

The Natural Resources Defense Council releases its annual report on water testing at more than 3,000 beaches nationwide, including those in Venice and Playa del Rey.

Local beaches, including spots in Venice Beach and Dockweiler State Beach, could use some improvement, according to a report released Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The NRDC's 22nd annual report analyzed government data on beach-water testing from 2011 at more than 3,000 beaches nationwide.

"Our beaches are plagued by a sobering legacy of water pollution," NRDC attorney Noah Garrison said. "Luckily, much of this filth is preventable and we can turn the tide against water pollution. By establishing better beach water quality standards and putting untapped 21st century solutions into place—we can make a day at the beach as carefree as it should be and safeguard California's vital tourism industry."

Three of the strips of strand in Venice Beach were rated on a five-star scale based on indicators of beachwater quality, monitoring frequency and public notification of contamination. One — Venice Beach at the Windward Avenue storm drain — received a four-star rating from the NRDC, losing a star only because its water quality is only monitored weekly.

The beach 50 yards south of the Venice Pier earned two stars, while the beach at Topsail Street received a one-star rating.

Dockweiler State beach at the Culver Boulevard storm drain received a four-star rating, while the beaches further south at the Department of Beaches and Harbors maintenance yard storm drain, the Imperial Highway storm drain and across from the Hyperion Treatment Plant received two-star ratings.

No beaches in Los Angeles County earned five-star ratings; however, Newport Beach, Bolsa Chica Beach and Huntington State Beach in Orange County earned five stars.

Additionally, two Southland beaches are plagued with persistent pollution problems and rank among the 15 worst in the nation, according to the report.

The report included Avalon Beach on Catalina Island and Doheny State Beach near Dana Point in Orange County on the nationwide "Repeat Offender" list. Water samples from these two beaches and 15 others from across the country violated public health standards more than 25 percent of the time for each year from 2007 to 2011, according to the report.

Overall, the report ranked California 21st out of 30 states in beachwater quality. The report found the most common reported causes of contamination came from elevated bacteria levels, preemptive closures due to sewage spills or leaks and heavy rainfall.

Last year, American beaches had the third-highest number of closure and advisory days in more than two decades, with California making up 25 percent of the national total. The report found that beach water nationwide in 2011 continued to suffer from contamination and pollutants from human and animal waste.

Individual states with highest violation rates of reported samples in 2011 were Louisiana, Ohio and Illinois. The lowest were found in Delaware, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New Jersey, Florida, Virginia and Hawaii.

Water quality of America's beaches has remained largely stable, with 8 percent of beach water samples nationwide violating public health standards in 2011 compared to 8 percent the previous year and 7 percent for four years prior, according to the report.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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