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San Diego’s water quality during dry weather — when rainfall isn’t sweeping pollutants into the ocean — is “very good,” according to a report card released today by Heal the Bay, a Santa Monica-based environmental group. Eighty-six percent of the county’s beaches that are monitored year-round received good or excellent scores during dry weather.

During the summer, massive swaths of San Diego’s beaches have either “very good” or “excellent” water quality: from San Onofre to Windansea (except at Cardiff State Beach) and from Tourmaline Surf Park south to Imperial Beach.

San Diego County escaped the organization’s list of dirtiest beaches. In 2005, Heal the Bay declared the beaches between Imperial Beach and the U.S.-Mexico border as having the state’s worst water quality. But that doesn’t mean the IB’s water is clean. The beaches there were closed 198 days last year because of high levels of bacteria in the water — the result of raw sewage washing down from Tijuana’s homes that lack proper plumbing. (Heal the Bay’s report covers April 2006 to March 2007.)

Seven of the 10 dirtiest beaches are in Los Angeles County, the report says. The others are in Sonoma, Santa Barbara and San Mateo counties.

The report does acknowledge the sewage that impacts Imperial Beach’s shoreline, pointing out that the county officials who monitor water quality are collecting half as many samples (two) from the area than they once did (four), giving an “incomplete picture” of water quality. The county says that sewage plume monitoring dampens the need to monitor as much.

Several parts of coastline received bad scores. The San Elijo Lagoon outlet at Cardiff, P.B. Point in Pacific Beach and Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge all received Ds. Bayside Park in the San Diego Bay and the Visitor’s Center and Bahia Point in Mission Bay received Fs.


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