Although the seashore is most commonly associated with the word beach, beaches are found by lakes and alongside large rivers, as well as by the sea or oceans. Beaches are a fine place to hang out to enjoy the surf and the sun. Unfortunately beaches may not be the cleanest places to be due to storm water pollution, sewerage and similar negative environmental effects. America’s beaches saw the third-highest number of closing and advisory days in more than two decades last year, confirming the nation’s seashores continue to suffer from storm water runoff and sewage pollution that can make people sick and harm coastal economies, according to the 22nd annual beach water quality report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Most U.S. beach closings result from high levels of harmful microorganisms found in untreated or partially treated sewage (most of which enters the water from combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows, and malfunctioning sewage treatment plants). Heavy rainfall can overload sewer systems which carry raw sewage to sewage treatment plants. When flows exceed the capacity of the system, sewers can overflow and discharge untreated sewage from manholes and bypasses at pump stations and sewage treatment plants.
n its 22nd year, NRDC’s annual report — Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches — analyzes government data on beachwater testing results from 2011 at more than 3,000 beach testing locations nationwide. The report examines the pollution realities that loom at America’s beaches and calls for a timely, concerted effort to avert future beachwater pollution.
The NRDC report states that last year, our nation’s beachwater continued to suffer from serious contamination and pollutants by human and animal waste. As a result, America’s beaches issued the third-highest number of closings or advisories in the report’s history last year, with the second-highest number occurring just the year before.
For the first time this year, NRDC’s report includes a zip code searchable map of more than 3,000 beaches nationwide, making it easier than ever for users to check the water quality, monitoring, closing and swimming advisory information at their local beaches.
For several years, NRDC has issued star ratings to each of the 200 popular beaches around the country, based on indicators of beach water quality, monitoring frequency, and public notification of contamination. Some of these beaches are as follows:
California: Newport Beach in Orange County
Newport Beach - 38th Street
Newport Beach - 52nd/53rd Street
Alabama: Gulf Shores Public Beach in Baldwin County
Delaware: Dewey Beach in Sussex County
Maryland: Ocean City at Beach 6 in Worcester County
Minnesota: Park Point Franklin Park / 13th Street South Beach Park Point in St. Louis County
New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park in Rockingham County
Then there are the beaches with problems with water samples violating public health standards more than 25 percent of the time for each year from 2007 to 2011:
California: Avalon Beach in Los Angeles County
California: Doheny State Beach in Orange County
Illinois: Winnetka Elder Park Beach in Cook County
Louisiana: Constance Beach in Cameron County
New Jersey: Beachwood Beach West in Ocean County
New York: Woodlawn Beach - Woodlawn Beach State
For further information see NRDC.
Beach image via Wikipedia.