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San Diego County Beaches Get Top Grades

State Budget Crisis Hurts Water Monitoring Effort

Above: Heal The Bay says San Diego beachgoers enjoyed near-perfect water quality last year.

Audio

Aired 5/20/09

Most San Diego beaches fared well in the 2009 Heal the Bay Beach Report Card. More than 500 beaches are given A-to-F letter grades based on water quality.

— Most San Diego beaches fared well in the 2009 Heal the Bay Beach Report Card. More than 500 beaches are given A-to-F letter grades based on water quality.

Heal the Bay graded 93 beaches along the San Diego County coast as part of its annual statewide study.

The grades are based on levels of bacterial pollution.

The better the grade a beach receives, the lower the risk of illness to ocean users.

Heal the Bay water quality director Kirsten James says 97% of San Diego beaches received A grades.

"San Diego beach water quality was excellent during the dry weather.," James says. "In the wet weather it's a bit of a different story like we typically see and those grades dropped pretty dramatically in San Diego."

She says storm drain runoff is the greatest source of pollution to local beaches.

The runoff is often contaminated with motor oil, pesticides and other harmful material.

James says the state budget crisis has caused cutbacks in year-round beach monitoring.

She says the cutbacks jeopardize public health.

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