Skip to main content

ALERT: KPBS Radio is undergoing scheduled upgrade work which may result in temporary signal outages.

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

La Jolla Cove Named Fifth Most Bacteria-Ridden Beach In State

Visitors in La Jolla Cove stand on the bluffs along the ocean, Nov. 19, 2015.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Above: Visitors in La Jolla Cove stand on the bluffs along the ocean, Nov. 19, 2015.

La Jolla Cove has been named the fifth-most polluted beach in California by the annual Beach Report Card from the environmental nonprofit Heal the Bay.

The report assigns letter grades to 416 beaches along the California coast based on levels of weekly bacterial pollution, which indicate whether a beach is safe for swimming without making you sick. La Jolla Cove had the fifth-highest number of weekly failures behind Clam Beach County Park in Humboldt County, San Clemente Pier in Orange County, Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz County and Lakeshore Park in San Mateo County.

Heal the Bay has done a report card every year for the past 25 years, and this is the first year La Jolla Cove has been on it.

"La Jolla Cove has less circulation than an open beach because of its cove shape," said Sarah Sikich, Heal the Bay’s vice president. "We also heard anecdotally that there's been an uptick in seals and sea lions there, so there could be waste associated with wildlife that's contributing to the bacteria levels."

She said there would need to be more research into whether the animals were responsible for the increase in bacteria.

La Jolla has long been plagued by stench coming from animal poop on the rocks. Residents and business owners have explored numerous options, including installing rotating cylinders that would roll the seals and sea lions back into the water. But nothing has yet worked out.

The cove received "D" grades last summer and during the wet winter season, down from a "B" grade in the summer of 2015 and an "A+" in the winter of 2015.

While Imperial Beach has gained attention this year for a major sewage spill, Sikich said it did not make the most-polluted list because it did not have as high a frequency of failing grades.

She said the goal of the report card is to call attention to beaches that should be avoided and need more help.

"There are a lot great beaches for swimming, but maybe La Jolla Cove is not one you want to swim at," she said. "We also want to inform beach managers of where there are problems so they can work towards solutions."

Most of the 75 beaches the nonprofit monitors in San Diego County performed well this year, with 97 percent earning A or B grades during dry weather. However, in wet weather only 68 percent earned A or B grades.

La Jolla Cove has been named the fifth-most polluted beach in California by the annual Beach Report Card from the environmental nonprofit Heal the Bay.

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Photo of Claire Trageser

Claire Trageser
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs a member of the KPBS investigative team, my job is to hold the powerful in San Diego County accountable. I've done in-depth investigations on political campaigns, police officer misconduct and neighborhood quality of life issues.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.