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Santa Monica Beaches Get Mixed Grades in Latest Heal the Bay Report Card

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By Jorge Casuso

July 6, 2020 -- Santa Monica beaches -- except for the area around the pier -- received top grades for water quality during dry weather but flunked during wet weather, according to Heal the Bay's latest report card.

The F grades received by the six Santa Monica beaches during wet weather reflected a general trend indicating that "water quality has improved over time, but wet weather water quality has actually declined," the report found.

Nearly half of the beaches tested in Los Angeles County received failing grades during wet weather, according to the organization's 30th annual report.

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Five of Santa Monica's six beaches -- near Montana Avenue, the Pico Kenter storm drain, Ashland Avenue, Strand Street and Wilshire Boulevard -- received A or A+ grades during both summer and winter dry weather.

The Santa Monica Pier received a B during summer dry weather, a D during winter dry weather and an F during wet weather, according to the report.

As part of Heal the Bay's retrospective analysis, the report examined how grades at some of the most heavily polluted beaches in California have changed over time.

It found that the Pier -- which has made the organization's beach bummer list eight time since 2008-09 -- has "shown no significant increase or decrease over time" in its grades.

Last year marked the first time the Pier managed to avoid the list, earning a C grade during both summer and winter dry weather and an F during wet weather ("Santa Monica Pier No Longer on 'Dreaded' Beach Bummer List," June 27, 2019).

California beaches scored high grades during the summer months of 2019, with 92 percent of the state's more than 500 beaches earning an A or B grade.

Wet weather water quality also improved last year due to lower than average rainfall, the report found.

"Less rain means fewer pollutants such as bacteria were washed into the ocean, which resulted in higher grades," the report said.

"Winter grades in dry weather were also better than average this year, likely because the reduced rainfall resulted in fewer lingering effects of runoff during the winter months."

The report noted that while COVID-19 has been detected in sewage, "experts have stated that the transmission risk in ocean water is likely very low.

"We do not know how long the virus survives in sewage or in the ocean, and we do not know if someone can contract COVID-19 from ocean water," the report said.

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