Summertime and Fourth of July means barbecues, family, friends and beaches for most of us. But as people prepare to hit the sand, there’s nothing worse than taking a dip in polluted water. Have no fear, though, because last week, the Natural Resources Defense Council released its annual report on beach pollution, compiling results on 3,000 beaches to create a comprehensive list of the top 35 cleanest ones.
Contamination and pollution on public beaches across the country is a consistent problem. Most of it can be contributed to rain water, which, through its course over pavement, picks up different contaminants which are then transferred to the ocean water. A further problem is the water treatment facilities that handle storm water and sewage in the same system.
The Natural Resources Defense Council’s report used information on the pollution levels of the beaches surveyed from 2009 to 2013 to rank their cleanliness as well as offer solutions to clean up dirtier waters. In order to be a superstar beach, the location had to meet the water quality standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency. First, it could not exceed the 2009-2012 national water quality level by more than two percent. Second, it could not exceed the 2013 Beach Action Value water quality by more than two percent.
All of this sounds very scientific for most of us, but it can be boiled down simply. Beach Action Value is different from water quality level because it deals solely with beach quality and just acts as a guideline for when beach health warnings should be administered. It is a not a required criteria but can be used as a tool by the states. Therefore, superstar beaches were less than two percent above the EPA’s established safe water quality values.
Of the 35 top beaches, there are some standouts whose numbers were zero percent in every category for every year. Some of those include Long Beach City in New York, Back Bay Beach in Virginia, Dauphin Island Public Beach and Beach at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina, among others.
So before you grab your towel and sunscreen, be sure to check to see where your favorite beach falls in the rankings. See the full list of superstars and offenders at Next City.