By Kristina Pritchett

Monarch Beach, north of Salt Creek, was listed as Heal the Bay’s 10th Beach Bummer in their recent annual report card.

The beach received a D, although according to the report, the beach had a “slight improvement in summer water quality compared to last year.” Last year’s report placed the beach at the number four spot on the Beach Bummer list.

Heal the Bay, an environmental nonprofit, assigned A through F letter grades to more than 400 beaches along the California coast for three reporting periods based on levels of weekly bacterial pollution.

“It is important to note that the water quality 25 yards and beyond both upcoast and downcoast of the creek outlet, the location which Heal the Bay’s grades are based on (i.e. point zero), meet standards consistently,” according to a statement by the city.

The city operates an ozone treatment facility, which treats dry weather flow for bacteria and pathogens.

“After the water quality treatment, however, natural processes like bird droppings and other environmental factors, such as regrowth in seaweed and sand come into play before the natural flow from the treatment plant reaches the beach,” the statement said.

According to the Heal the Bay, agencies are still concerned about the meandering portion of Salt Creek.

“The treated runoff is then returned to Sat Creek just prior to reaching the ocean. Unfortunately, like most natural creek systems flowing to the ocean, creeks often meander, rather than flow in a straight path to the sea,” the report said.

It adds it’s been argued the meandering portion of Salt Creek has facilitated a greater bird population and has increased the amount of bird feces which leads to poor water quality.

Last year, a pilot bird abatement program was put into motion to study the impact of deterring the birds and their droppings in the area. The program has begun again and will continue through the summer.

On the opposite side, projection of Camino Estrella and South Capistrano Bay Community Beach earned a spot on the honor roll. To make the list, the beach must be monitored weekly year-round and receive only exceptional (A+) grades during all seasons and weather conditions.

“The region is exploring the feasibility of the use of emerging testing technologies, such as a DNA-based testing method that allows us to determine the contribution of bacteria from various sources, including avian (bird) DNA,” said Dana Point Senior Water Quality Engineer, Lisa Zawaski, in a statement.

Listed below are how each of the city’s beaches were graded:

Monarch Beach North: Summer Dry-D, Winter Dry-F, Wet Weather-F

Salt Creek Beach: Summer Dry-A+, Winter Dry-A+, Wet Weather-A

Dana Strands Beach (AWMA): Summer Dry-A Winter Dry-A+, Wet Weather-A

Marine Science Institute Beach (SERRA): Summer Dry-A+, Winter Dry-A+, Wet Weather-A

Doheny State Beach, North Beach: Summer Dry-B Winter Dry-F, Wet Weather-F

Doheny State Beach, Mid-Beach, north of San Juan Creek: Summer Dry-A, Winter Dry-B, Wet Weather-F

Doheny State Beach, San Juan Creek Ocean Interface: Summer Dry-A, Winter Dry-F, Wet Weather-F

Doheny State Beach, San Juan Creek Interface: Summer Dry-A+, Winter Dry-F, Wet Weather-F

Doheny State Beach, 1000′ so. of SERRA Outfall (last campground): Summer Dry-A, Winter Dry-F, Wet Weather-D

Doheny State Beach, 2000′ so. of SERRA Outfall: Summer Dry-A, Winter Dry-A, Wet Weather-D

Doheny State Beach, South Day Use Area drain: Summer Dry-A+, Winter Dry-A, Wet Weather-F

Doheny State Beach, 3000′ so. of SERRA Outfall (pedestrian bridge): Summer Dry-A+, Winter Dry-A, Wet Weather-D

Doheny State Beach, End of the park: Summer Dry-A+, Winter Dry-A, Wet Weather-D

Capistrano County Beach, 5000′ so. of SERRA Outfall: Summer Dry-A, Winter Dry-A+, Wet Weather-A+

Capistrano County Beach, drain: Summer Dry-A, Winter Dry-A, Wet Weather-C

Capistrano Bay Community Beach: Summer Dry-A, Winter Dry-A+, Wet Weather-A+

Capistrano, proj. of Camino Estrella, 7500′ so. of SERRA Outfall: Summer Dry-A+, Winter Dry-A+, Wet Weather-A+

So. Capistrano Bay Comm. Beach, 10000′ so. of SERRA Outfall: Summer Dry-A+, Winter Dry-A+, Wet Weather-A+

Dana Point Harbor

Baby Beach – West End: Summer Dry-A, Winter Dry-A, Wet Weather-B

Baby Beach – Buoy Line: Summer Dry-A, Winter Dry-A+, Wet Weather-C

Baby Beach – Swim Area: Summer Dry-B, Winter Dry-A, Wet Weather-C

Baby Beach – East End: Summer Dry-A+, Winter Dry-A+, Wet Weather-C

Guest Dock: Summer Dry-A+, Winter Dry-A+, Wet Weather-B

Youth Dock: Summer Dry-A+, Winter Dry-A+, Wet Weather-A

To see the rest of the grades, visit www.healthebay.org.

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