Water quality improving at California’s beaches

Water quality at California beaches has continued to show improvement, even as the future of monitoring programs remains uncertain because of state budget shortfalls, according to a report released Wednesday by Heal the Bay.

This summer was one of the cleanest on record for California beaches and the fourth straight summer of excellent water quality grades statewide. Of the beaches tested, 92% received A or B grades during the high-traffic beachgoing season, according to the environmental group’s End of Summer Beach Report Card.

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Is It Worth It to Save Oceanfront Development? Economists Wonder

Economists are coming up with new ways of predicting damage to oceanfront resorts, highways and homes and reassessing the wisdom of further coastal development.

An upcoming study by economists at University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, Santa Barbara; and San Francisco State University modeled 15 miles of California beaches and found large differences in the costs and benefits of shoring up eroding coastlines.

Assuming a low-end estimate of 1 meter sea-level rise, a 100-year flood at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach would cause $285 million in property damage, compared to $107 million in 2000.

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Beach water quality up

At a press conference at Santa Monica Beach, Heal the Bay Executive Director Mark Gold said that overall, water quality at California beaches is up this year. During the dry-weather period from March 2009 through April 2010, out of 450 beaches surveyed in California, 79 percent of the sites earned A or B grades. In the Southern California area, 86 percent of beaches received A grades in dry weather, the highest grades for these beaches in ten years.

However, the same beaches earn different grades in wet weather.

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