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California beach closure and advisory days increased 30 percent in 2005 from a year earlier, according to an environmental watchdog’s analysis.

But San Diego County saw a 22 percent drop from 2004, with 367 cumulative days of closures and advisories, said the survey from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Nationwide, closures and advisories went up 5 percent, the council said.

A majority (53 percent) of San Diego’s closures came from elevated bacteria levels – from unknown sources, stormwater and dredging.

The rest came from preemptive closings to known sewage spills, the council’s survey states.

“Many beaches in San Diego (and elsewhere in Southern California) have stormdrains that discharge untreated runoff from streets, curbs, and gutters into the ocean and bays,” the NRDC says. “San Diego’s increased urbanization tends to exacerbate this problem.”

The NRDC called out Imperial Beach as one of the nation’s 22 dirtiest beaches, for violating federal public health standards at least 50 percent of the year. For some background on why IB’s water is polluted, read this story.

The nation-wide NRDC survey is available here.

ROB DAVIS

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