32 F
Sunday, February 5, 2023
HomeBlogNew and NotableAnnual Beach Report Names Best and Worst Beaches

Annual Beach Report Names Best and Worst Beaches

ttwwarningNearby Delaware Beaches Make List

Report Awards 4 Beaches “Superstar” Status, Identifies Top 10 “Repeat Offenders”

WASHINGTON– Pollution from stormwater runoff and sewage overflows continues to plague America’s beaches, which saw the second-highest number of closing and advisory days in more than two decades last year, according to the 21st annual beachwater quality report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

“America’s beaches have long suffered from pollution – the difference is now we know what to do about it,” said NRDC senior attorney Jon Devine. “By making our communities literally greener on land – we can make the water at the beach cleaner. In the years to come, there’s no reason we can’t reverse this dirty legacy.”

In its 21st year, NRDC’s annual report – Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches – analyzes government data on beachwater testing results from 2010 at more than 3,000 beach testing locations nationwide. The report confirms that last year, our nation’s beachwater continued to suffer from serious contamination – including oil, and human and animal waste – and a concerted effort to control future pollution is required.

“Clean beachwater is not only good for public health, it supports healthy coastal economies that generate billions of dollars and support millions of American jobs,” said David Beckman, Director of the Water Program at NRDC. “By taking steps to stop the biggest sources of pollution in the waves, we can help keep trips to beach carefree, and support our lucrative tourism industries nationwide.”

The report also provides a 5-star rating guide to 200 of the nation’s most popular beaches, evaluating them for water quality and best practices for testing and public notification. For the first time this year NRDC is awarding top performers “Superstar” status. NRDC also highlights the top 10 “Repeat Offender” beaches with persistently poor water quality year after year. Testing the Waters this year also includes a special section dedicated to oil-related beach closures, advisories, and notices in the Gulf of Mexico region since the BP oil spill last year.


NRDC is awarding “Superstar Beach” status to four U.S. beaches featured in our 5-star rating guide. These beaches deserve special notice for not only receiving a 5-star rating this year, but for having perfect testing results for the past three years, indicating a history of very good water quality. Those beaches are:

·         Delaware: Rehoboth Beach-Rehoboth Avenue Beach, in Sussex County

·         Delaware: Dewey Beach, in Sussex County

·         Minnesota: Park Point Lafayette Community Club Beach, in St. Louis County

·         New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park in Rockingham County

NRDC’s star-criteria system awards up to five stars to each of the 200 popular beaches in our ratings guide. Stars are earned for exceeding health standards less than 5 percent of the time last year and over the last three years, and for the following best practices: testing more than once a week, notifying the public promptly when tests reveal bacteria levels exceeding health standards, and posting closings and advisories both online and at the beach.


Over the last five years of this report, sections of 10 U.S. beaches have stood out as having persistent contamination problems, with water samples exceeding public health standards more than 25 percent of the time for each year from 2006 to 2010:

·         California: Avalon Beach in Los Angeles County (3 of 5 monitored sections):

o   Avalon Beach – Near Busy B Café

o   Avalon Beach – North of GP Pier

o   Avalon Beach – South of GP Pier

·         California: Cabrillo Beach Station in Los Angeles County

·         California: Doheny State Beach in Orange County (2 of 6 monitored sections):

o   Doheny State Beach – North of San Juan Creek

o   Doheny State Beach – Surf Zone at Outfall

·         Florida: Keaton Beach in Taylor County

·         Illinois: North Point Marina North Beach in Lake County

·         New Jersey: Beachwood Beach West in Ocean County

·         Ohio: Villa Angela State Park in Cuyahoga County

·         Texas: Ropes Park in Nueces County

·         Wisconsin: Eichelman beach in Kenosha County

·         Wisconsin: South Shore Beach in Milwaukee

It is important to note that, due to their size, some of these beaches have multiple sections that are tested for water quality, and in some instances only certain sections of a beach qualified for the repeat offender list. Where possible, multi-segment beaches have been indicated on this list, along with the specific sections of those beaches identified as repeat offenders.

The region with the most frequently contaminated beachwater in 2010 was the Great Lakes, where 15 percent of beachwater samples exceeded public health standards. The Southeast, New York-New Jersey coast and Delmarva region proved the cleanest at 4 percent, 5 percent and 6 percent respectively.

Individual states with the highest rates of reported contamination in 2010 were Louisiana (37 percent exceeding health standards), Ohio (21 percent), and Indiana (16 percent). Those with the lowest rates of contamination last year were New Hampshire (1 percent), New Jersey (2 percent), Oregon (3 percent), Hawaii (3 percent) and Delaware (3 percent).

Under the federal BEACH Act, states regularly test their beachwater for bacteria found in human and animal waste. These bacteria indicate the presence of pathogens. When beach managers determine that water contamination exceeds health standards – or in some cases when a state suspects levels would exceed standards, such as after heavy rain – they notify the public through beach closures or advisories.

Beachwater pollution nationwide causes a range of waterborne illnesses in swimmers including stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, ear, nose and throat problems, dysentery, hepatitis, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders and other serious health problems. For senior citizens, small children and people with weak immune systems, the results can be fatal. The incidence of infections has been steadily growing over the past several decades, and with coastal populations growing it is reasonable to expect this upward trend to continue until the pollution sources are addressed.


EPA estimates that more than 10 trillion gallons of untreated stormwater make their way into our surface waters each year, and there are 850 billion gallons of wastewater, which includes sewage and stormwater, released in combined sewer overflows annually.

The best way to keep this pollution out of America’s beachwater is to prevent it from the start by investing in smarter, greener infrastructure on land – like porous pavement, green roofs, parks, roadside plantings and rain barrels – that makes a real difference in the water.

Green infrastructure stops rain where it falls, storing it or letting it filter back into the ground naturally. This keeps it from running off dirty streets and carrying pollution to the beach. And it keeps it from overloading sewage systems and triggering overflows.

These smarter water practices on land not only prevent pollution at the beach – they beautify neighborhoods, cool and cleanse the air, reduce asthma and heat-related illnesses, save on heating and cooling energy costs, boost economies and support American jobs at the same time.

Cities nationwide are already starting to embrace these practices at the local level. Now, our federal government has significant opportunities to increase its prevalence on the national level. Most importantly, EPA has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to expand the use of green infrastructure in communities nationwide by overhauling its national rules designed to tackle runoff pollution. EPA will propose new rules later this year.

By embracing green infrastructure at a national scale, the government can significantly clean up the water at America’s beaches for the future.


·         Full report: http://www.nrdc.org/beaches.

·         The 5-star rating guide to 200 popular beaches: http://www.nrdc.org/water/oceans/ttw/200beaches.asp.

·         Broadcast-quality video of solutions for cleaner beachwater: http://vimeo.com/album/262783.

·         Tips for a safe trip to the beach: http://www.nrdc.org/water/oceans/gttw.asp.    

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.3 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Livingston, MT, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Tips From our Sponsors

Stay Connected


Most Read