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La Jolla beaches earn high marks from Heal the Bay

Beaches in San Diego County had near-perfect water quality last year during dry weather, but earned poor marks during periods of precipitation, according to a report released Wednesday by an environmental group.

Only one beach in San Diego County - Vacation Isle North Cove Beach in Mission Bay - made Heal the Bay’s “Beach Bummer” list, which ranks the 10 most polluted sites in California.

Local beaches earned an A+ dry grade, including WindanSea beach, the Children’s Pool, La Jolla Ravina, La Jolla Cove, the Coast Boulevard beach in La Jolla and La Jolla Shores. WindanSea Beach was also sampled during the wet season and earned an A+.

Heal the Bay assigned A through F letter grades to 46 beaches in the county monitored year-round, measuring the level of bacterial pollution in the water.

According to the group’s 20th annual Beach Report Card, about 96 percent of the regional sites received A grades during periods of dry-weather.

According to Heal the Bay, nearly three years of very low rainfall reduced the amount of polluted runoff flowing into the ocean.

However, there was a substantial disparity between dry and wet weather grades.

Nearly 41 percent of the 44 beaches in San Diego County monitored during wet weather periods received poor grades, with one out of five local beaches earning an F grade during the rainy season, according to Heal the Bay.

“This gap between improving dry grades and lagging wet grades indicates San Diego has made strides to mitigate dry weather pollution but is still grappling with stormwater runoff,” the report states.

One area of water quality concern is in Imperial Beach, which, according to Heal the Bay, continues to be compromised by sewage contaminated plumes moving north from the Tijuana Estuary.

Over the last reporting period, there were nine beach closures from Coronado to the U.S. border due to sewage plumes coming from the Tijuana River, according to Heal the Bay.

Statewide, 90 percent of beaches received A or B grades, a 5 percent improvement from last year, according to the group. Only 20 beaches, or 6 percent, received D or F grades.