Ripples cross Horseshoe Cove at Fort Baker in Sausalito on Friday, July 9 2021. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal) 

The ongoing historic drought has had many negative consequences for Marin County so far but has led to one short-term benefit: cleaner beach water during the summer.

Twenty-four beaches tested in Marin County received straight-A grades for water quality during the summer of 2020 as part of the latest Beach Report Card released by the Santa Monica-based environmental group, Heal the Bay. The organization grades beaches based on concentrations of fecal bacteria contamination such as E. coli, which can indicate the potential presence of harmful pathogens.

Marin’s beaches were among the 93% of the 500 statewide beaches assessed in the report that received high marks for the summer of 2020, namely because of the below-average rainfall in the summer before, according to water quality officials.

“That reduced the amount of pollutants flowing out to the ocean,” said Arti Kundu, who heads the beach water quality testing program for the Marin County Environmental Health Division. “Whenever there are drought conditions or a decrease in the rainfall, we always have improved water quality.”

The reverse scenario plays out as well. Heavy rains lead to more runoff of pollutants onto beaches during the winter months.

However, Marin does not test water quality during the winter period of November through the end of March since it began its beach monitoring program in 2003, Kundu said. The reason is because of the state grants that fund these beach water tests, Kundu said.

To qualify for the funds, the tested beaches must meet several criteria. It must be used by 50,000 people per year for recreational purposes in which people regularly come in contact with the water, such as swimming and have an identified source of contamination near it such as a sewage system.

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Source:: East Bay – Entertainment


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