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America’s Cleanest Beaches

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By Author: Steve Robinson
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Finding cheap travel options, such as cheap airplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, cheap auto rentals, and cheap vacation packages can be easier than finding a clean beach.

The annual Beach Report has been issued by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The positive news is that the water quality of the country’s most popular beaches has not deteriorated over the past year. Unfortunately it has not gotten materially better.

High bacteria levels in the water caused beach closings or advisories over 20,000 days in 2012. The main reason for beach water pollution is storm runoff from roads, parking lots, and other hardscapes.

Swimming in contaminated water is not advised since it can cause a variety of problems from gastrointestinal ailments to pinkeye. Water can contain viruses, bacteria, and other parasites that make people sick. Often swimmers are unaware that the beach water was what made them sick.

The Great Lakes experienced the highest violation rates, with 10 percent of its water samples not meeting clean water standards. Delmarva scored the best with only 3 percent of its samples too high.

States with the worst water samples rates were Ohio (21 percent), Wisconsin (14 percent) and Minnesota (12 percent). States experiencing the fewest water problems were Delaware (under 1 percent), New Hampshire (1 percent) and North Carolina (2 percent).

NRDC rated the country’s 200 most popular vacation beaches awarding up to five stars based on low violation rates, frequent water testing, and prompt public notification where there is a problem.

The five-star winners this year are:
• Alabama: Gulf Shores Public Beach in Baldwin County
• Alabama: Gulf State Park Pavilion in Baldwin County
• California: Bolsa Chica Beach in Orange County
• California: Newport Beach in Orange County (2 of 3 monitored sections)
• California: San Clemente State Beach in Orange County
• Delaware: Dewey Beach - Dagsworthy in Sussex County
• Delaware: Rehoboth Beach in Sussex County
• Maryland: Ocean City at Beach 6 in Worcester County
• Michigan: Bay City State Recreation Area in Bay County
• Minnesota: Park Point Franklin Park / 13th Street South Beach Park Point in St. Louis County
• Minnesota: Lafayette Community Club Beach in St. Louis County
• New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park in Rockingham County
• New Hampshire: Wallis Sands Beach in Rockingham County

The following were repeat offenders whose beach water samples exceeded public health standard over 25 percent of the time from 2008-2012:
California: Doheny State Beach in Orange County (6 of 7 monitored sections)
• California: Poche County Beach in Orange County
• Indiana: Jeorse Park Beach in Lake County
• New Jersey: Beachwood Beach in Ocean County
• New York: Ontario Beach in Monroe County
• Ohio: Lakeshore Park in Ashtabula County
• Ohio: Euclid State Park in Cuyahoga County
• Ohio: Villa Angela State Park in Cuyahoga County
• Ohio: Edson Creek in Erie County
• Wisconsin: South Shore Beach in Milwaukee County
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