Bay Area beaches were put to the test and came out with mostly good grades on the Heal the Bay 2013 Beach Report Card that was released this morning.
Heal the Bay, a nonprofit water quality advocacy group based in Southern California graded 44 beaches in San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin counties based on weekly bacterial levels sampled from April through October 2012.
Beaches in Santa Cruz County were also graded.
This year 93 percent of Bay Area beaches received A grades during the so-called dry period of the year, which was up from 78 percent last year.
In Santa Cruz County, 77 percent of beaches scored an A grade.
Throughout the state 445 ocean-side locations were given A-to-F grades, with 85 percent making an A rating.
The group also unveiled this year’s Beach Bummer list, which reviews the 10 most polluted beaches in the state, which this year included two sites at Cowell State Beach in Santa Cruz County, where there was human fecal contamination.
San Mateo’s Marina Lagoon and San Francisco’s Windsurfer Circle at Candlestick Point both made it onto this year’s Beach Bummer List, based on year-round levels of bacterial pollution.
Beaches with high-quality water made this year’s “Honor Roll,” including San Mateo County’s Montara State Beach and Sharp Park Beach.
The list includes 35 beaches statewide that were monitored year-round and scored perfect A-plus grades.
The group said in their report that several Bay Area beaches remain bacterial hot spots during the summer season, noting that San Mateo had poor grades at Aquatic Park with an F and a D grade at Lakeshore Park.
San Francisco’s Baker Beach at Lobos Creek and Candlestick Point’s Windsurfer Circle both received C-grades during the summer period.
Beaches in Sonoma County earned perfect 100-percent A grades during the summer.
The environmental group also looked at water quality during wet-weather periods, which is when bacterial levels rise, as was the case this year.
Only 43 percent of Bay Area beaches received A or B marks during rainy weather.
In Santa Cruz County, beaches there received the worst grades in the state with only a quarter of the sites achieving top marks during the wetter seasons.
According to the group, beaches with lower grades mean beachgoers face more of a chance of getting sick with stomach flu, skin rashes and other infections.
Bacterial levels rise with wet weather when more run-off makes it into the beaches, according to the report.
“Wet weather causes a lot more trouble,” Heal the Bay spokeswoman Anne Bergman said. “This year was a lot more dry.”
Heal the Bay recommends people check beach reports weekly, since bacteria levels can change quickly, Bergman said.
Weekly grades are available at beachreportcard.org.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News