Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

San Diego Beaches Well-Rated, But Reports Say Nine Very Polluted


To view video on, you must have a JavaScript-enabled browser and the Flash Player, minimum version 9, available for free at

Source file.


Just how polluted are our local beaches? Heal the Bay is releasing its annual beach report card and list of the 10 most polluted beaches in California. Full Focus reporter Heather Hill tells us how San Diego's beaches fare.

We were at La Jolla shores today and the water was busy with surfers and boogie boarders. Despite the dreary weather, the good news for them is San Diego's beaches are fairly safe, according to a year-long investigation into California's water contamination levels. But swimmers are warned to take precaution in some trouble areas.

San Diego beaches got high marks in a comparison of over 500 beaches up and down the California coast. Non-profit 'Heal the Bay' graded beaches on scale of A to F, based on levels of bacteria in the water -- and 86 percent of the county's beaches received A's and B's. But not all California beaches made the grade. Los Angeles county claims seven of the 10 most polluted beaches in the state.

Mitzy Taggart, Heal the Bay: An ‘F’ beach means that the standards were exceeded often. Often enough that you probably want to avoid swimming at that beach. If you did swim at that beach, you have a higher risk of getting the stomach flu, upper respiratory illnesses, skin rash and ear infections.

San Diego has its share of "beach bummers" too. Nine county beaches earned D's or F's. The worst pollution was found at the Tijuana river mouth, the Visitor's Center Beach in Mission Bay and Bayside Park in San Diego Bay. Scientists say bays, marinas and harbors are often the most dangerous to swimmers because of poor water circulation.

Taggart : Enclosed beaches appear to be family-friendly beaches. They have low wave action, warmer water, and they have names like "kiddie's beach," "babies beach," and "children's beach," but they are some of our most polluted beaches in California.

Environmentalists agree one of the greatest threats to your day at the beach in San Diego is the Tijuana River.

Serge Dedina , Wild Coast: According to the county department of environmental health, 91 percent of the beach closure days in San Diego county last year was a result of Tijuana River pollution.

Scientists say beach-goers should never swim within 100 yards of a flowing storm drain. It's also important to avoid swimming in coastal water during a rainstorm and for at least three days after the storm has ended. For weekly updates about pollution at your local beach, visit Heal the Bay's web page .

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.