A new study shows the Central Coast has some of the cleanest beaches in the state, but also one of the dirtiest.
An annual report released by Heal the Bay, a nonprofit tracking water quality, graded beaches along the Pacific Coast based on levels of fecal bacteria pollution.
“It's a big problem. [Fecal indicator bacteria] causes tens of thousands of people to get sick every year in California and it costs folks tens of millions of dollars in healthcare costs going to the doctor and the pharmacy,” said Luke Ginger, a water quality scientist with Heal the Bay.
Using an 'A' to 'F' letter grading system, the beach report card scores water samples taken in the summer, dry winter, and rainy seasons.
Morro Bay City Beach, Silver Shoal, Pismo State Beach (north of the pier) in San Luis Obispo County and Guadalupe Dunes and El Capitan State Beach in Santa Barbara County made the honor roll list.
This is the third year Guadalupe Dunes has secured a spot on the highly coveted list.
To earn a spot on the Honor Roll, a beach must be monitored weekly all year and must receive an A+ for all seasons and weather conditions.
According to the beach report card, 100% of San Luis Obispo County beaches got 'A' and 'B' grades and 95% have maintained those grades in a five-year average.
94% of Santa Barbara County beaches received 'A 'and 'B' grades last summer with a five-year average of 95%.
“It's nice, nice to have that honor,” said Shell Beach resident Ed Sardella. “We love it here and we walk on the beach almost every day.”
However, East Beach in Santa Barbara failed the test for the first time, landing the #10 spot on the 'Beach Bummer’ list as one of the dirtiest beaches surveyed in the state.
“The likely source of pollution is the [Mission Creek] itself which flows through the Santa Barbara area and likely picks up pollutants along the way,” Ginger said. “I am willing to bet there are some storm drains flowing into it and adding pollution to that stream.”
According to Heal the Bay, the last Santa Barbara County Beach Bummer was Arroyo Burro in 2011.
Ginger recommends not swimming in the water at beaches with poor water quality grades.
At the cleaner beaches, many families are looking forward to summer fun this weekend.
“A lot of families come here with their babies, with their kids and it is beautiful, it is all beautiful,” said Karina Fuentes who was visiting Pismo Beach from Mexico on Friday.
These reports do give good insight but if a beach gets a bad grade, it is not mandatory to fix, according to Heal the Bay. It would be up to local counties and cities to continue testing and make waters safer.
Click here for the full report.