Local beaches aren’t total bummers 

Despite spills of oil and sewage into local waters over the past year, all Bay Area beaches managed to stay off of the dreaded Beach Bummer list.

The list of top 10 most polluted beaches in the state is compiled annually by Santa Monica-based environmental group Heal the Bay. The group issued its 2007-08 report Wednesday, handing out A to F grades for beaches statewide.

California enjoyed its best beach water quality in dry weather on record last year, and the Bay Area was no exception, said James Alamillo of Heal the Bay. Almost all Bay Area beaches earned A or B grades during the dry months. But water quality fell sharply during the winter months due to storm-drain runoff.

Among San Francisco beaches earning failing grades during wet weather were Ocean Beach near Lincoln Way and three areas of Candlestick Point — Jackrabbit Beach, Windsurfer Circle and Sunnydale Cove.

During year-round dry weather, however, 12 of 14 of San Francisco’s beaches received A grades.

In San Mateo County, Venice Beach at Fisherman’s Creek, Aquatic Park and Lakeshore Park all earned failing grades for wet weather as well. But in a bit of good news, Venice Beach — which clocked in at No. 8 on the Beach Bummer list last year — improved its score for year-round dry weather from an F to a C.

"Venice Beach has shown substantial improvement," said Alamillo, adding many believe the poor water quality is a result of the many sea birds drawn to Venice Beach.

Pillar Point Harbor at Capistrano Avenue, which has shown up on the Beach Bummer list for three years, was not monitored this year by the San Mateo County Health Department, as officials reasoned there are not enough visitors to continue monitoring.

For the first time, Contra Costa and Alameda county beaches were included in the study. Earning failing grades for wet weather were three areas of Alameda’s Crown Beach. No Santa Cruz beach received a failing grade, and only two received D’s. Sonoma and Marin counties did not submit data for wet days. Sonoma’s Campbell Cove State Park Beach earned an F for its dry season.

Jessica Castelli, spokeswoman for Oakland-based Save the Bay, said that San Francisco is the only county in California with a combined sewage and storm water treatment system.

tbarak@sfexaminer.com

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