There is no doubt that the current California drought is one of historic proportions. With record low rainfall, many California homeowners are having difficulty dealing with water restrictions and are vegetation is visibly dry. As groundwater levels decline and the state deals with seawater intrusion, the short- and long-term effects of the drought can be quite devastating.
Yet, despite concerns regarding the potential for damaging various ecosystems, the environmental group known as Heal the Bay has found that the drought may actually be helping to improve the water quality in some of California’s beaches. In fact, approximately 97 percent of Southern California’s beaches received an A or B grade in terms of bacterial pollution according to the organizations 25th annual Beach Report Card.
When determining the grades that it assigned to the 468 beaches located along the California coast, Heal the Bay took measurements of bacteria that are linked to illnesses such as upper respiratory infections, major skin rashes and stomach flu. In all, 95 percent of the beaches tested receive an A or a B during the 2014-2015 dry summer season that spans from April through October. Furthermore, only 13 of the state’s beaches earned a D or an F. The breakdown by region was as follows:
- Los Angeles County: 94 percent earned an A or a B
- Orange County: 99 percent earned an A or a B
- San Diego County: 96 percent earned an A or a B
- San Francisco Bay area (Marin County through San Mateo County): 93 percent earned an A or B
- Santa Barbara County: 100 percent earned an A
- Southern California: 97 percent earned an A or a B
- Ventura: 100 percent earned an A
The study has found that beach grades throughout the state have been consistently outperforming their five-year average when compared to last year’s dry summer. The Los Angeles County results alone represent a 10 percent increase when compared to the county’s five-year seasonal average.
While Orange County and San Diego County both performed quite well in the study, it should be noted that each county had one beach represented on the organization’s “Beach Bummer List” of the ten most polluted beaches in the state. These were San Diego’s Mission Bay, which is located on Clairmont Drive, and Huntington State Beach at Orange County’s Brookhurst.
Southern California Beach Property Owners Look Toward the Future
While the high beach grades are certainly a welcome side effect of the drought, Heal the Bay warns that it could be creating a false sense of long-term improvement. With the state having a history of huge swings from extended dry periods to short but intense wet periods, the organization is advocating to build infrastructure projects that will capture and clean stormwater so it can be reused rather than dumped into the sea. This would help to keep the beaches healthier in wet weather, during which time nearly one in four of the state’s beaches historically earn an F grade.
If you are interested in purchasing a Southern California luxury home, we would love the opportunity to show you homes in the area’s most exclusive neighborhoods. Please contact our team of luxury property experts for more information.