The 2007-2008 Annual Beach Report Card showed the best overall water quality on record. Most California beaches had very good water quality, with 330 of 379 (87%) locations receiving very good-to-excellent (A and B) grades for the year during dry weather. The remaining grades were 20 Cs (5%), 5 Ds (1%) and 24 Fs (6%). Southern California (Santa Barbara through San Diego) dry weather grades (87% As and Bs) were similar to the statewide average for the first time in three years. This is most likely due to the historic drought experienced during the winter of 2006-2007 in Southern California. Los Angeles County still had the state’s lowest grades in the state with only 71% As and Bs, but that tally marks a solid improvement from last year’s grades. Despite moderate improvement in Long Beach overall, water quality at monitoring locations nearest the Los Angeles River outlet continued to suffer from very poor water quality this year.
One of the reasons that Los Angeles County had the worst water quality grades in California is that the county is one of the first in the state (along with Humboldt County and portions of San Diego) to modify its monitoring program to collect samples directly in front of flowing stormdrains and creeks. This change was a result of the Santa Monica Bay beach bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load requirements. (TMDLs are water body specific standards.) Children play directly in front of stormdrains, and in the runoff-filled ponds and lagoons. Monitoring at “point zero” – the mouth of stormdrains or creeks – is the best way to ensure that the health risks to swimmers are captured in the data.