Where’s the dirtiest beach in California? Cowell wins again


Environment Updates

Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz fails as Heal The Bay launch annual report

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 26 May, 2016 – Data released today by environmental group Heal the Bay in its 26th annual Beach Report Card lists California’s top ten dirtiest beaches and topping the list once again is Cowells Beach in Santa Cruz. The beach, coveted by locals and newbies alike is adjacent the spot where a ‘surfing display’ was given by travelling Hawaiians in the late 1800s.

The annual report by Heal the Bay assigns a letter grade to California’s beaches for summertime use. They tested 456 beaches in 2015 and 2016 and gave the grades based on weekly levels of bacteria counts. Most beaches did well with 95% receiving A or B grades.

However, 3% of the beaches failed miserably with D or F grades. Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz, Clam Beach in Humboldt County and Shorleine Beach Park in San Diego topped the list. Cowell Beach failed during 62 percent of the times it had water sampled.

“Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz has the dubious distinction of topping the list for a third year in a row,” said Heal the Bay. “New entrants this year include Shoreline Park at Shelter Island in San Diego and Monarch Beach near Salt Creek in Dana Point.”

Cowell Beach, west of the wharf (Santa Cruz County)
Clam Beach, near Strawberry Creek (Humboldt County)
Shoreline Beach Park at Shelter Island (San Diego County)
Monarch Beach, north at Salt Creek (Orange County)
Santa Monica Pier (Los Angeles County)
Marina del Rey – Mother’s Beach (Los Angeles County)
Redondo Municipal Pier (Los Angeles County)
Candlestick Point/Sunnydale Cove (San Francisco County)
Pillar Point, end of West Point Ave. (San Mateo County)
Pismo Beach Pier, 40 feet south (San Luis Obispo County)

Heal the Bay advises that: “High bacteria counts at these sites are linked to such potential illnesses as stomach flu, ear infections and major skin rashes.” Heal the Bay advises beachgoers to avoid enclosed beaches, which are often riddled with harmful bacteria, and to swim at least 100 yards away from flowing storm drains and piers.

Nearly one in four monitored beaches in California received F grades for wet weather in the report. The marked seasonal difference in water quality is why Heal the Bay recommends that ocean-users avoid the water for at least three days after a storm.

Check the full Heal The Bay report here