One Silver Lining: Calif. Dry Spell Makes for Cleaner Beach Water

5/26/2014 1:00:29 PM

The drought parching California has resulted in less-polluted waters along the coastline.

Record-low rainfalls have decreased polluted runoff into rivers, according to environmental group Heal the Bay, which released its annual Beach Report Card on May 22.

Effect of the Drought on Uvas Reservoir. (Credit: Flickr/Don DeBold)

The group gave 95 percent of California beaches A or B water quality grades for the summer of 2013, 2 percent higher than the year before. At Los Angeles County beaches, which have long been the most contaminated in the state, there was a 6-point improvement, to 90 percent receiving A's and B's from 84 percent in the previous summer season.

But the group cautions against taking the news too much to heart; the report said low runoff levels "may be providing a false sense of long-term beach water-quality improvement."

Water quality could get much worse if the predicted El Niño brings lots of rain to wash more polluted water into the Pacific.

The polluted runoff comes from chemicals washed into drains, creeks and rivers from lawns, roads and industrial sites and eventually ends up in coastal waters.

Heal the Bay suggests governments make provisions for better infrastructure to capture this runoff before it reaches the sea (Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times, May 22).

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500.

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