California beach is most polluted seen in new study. People are ‘getting sick left and right’

LOS ANGELES TIMES – Last year, the Surfrider Foundation tested thousands of water samples across the nation, as well as in Canada and Costa Rica, and found that 64% of the 567 sites tested had at least one sample with unsafe bacteria levels.

Each location was tested multiple times, said Mara Dias, the foundation’s senior manager for the Clean Water Initiative.

“This is a measure of basically safety for swimming or surfing,” Dias told The Times. “Is the water safe for people to be in? Or could it cause them to be sick?”

The organization, a nonprofit environmentalist group, collected 9,538 water samples from the 567 sites, including rivers and creeks that discharge into the ocean, as well as the beaches nearby where people surf and swim.

A quarter of the samples came from sites in California, from Marin County to San Diego County.

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“People in my community are getting sick left and right”

Among the top 10 most polluted locations mentioned in the report, three are in California. At the top of this list is Imperial Beach in San Diego, where every sample collected turned up bacteria counts that exceeded the state’s health standard for recreational waters, the report said.

That beach has been closed for more than two years because of toxic water from the Tijuana River Watershed flowing into the ocean, said Mayor Paloma Aguirre of the city of Imperial Beach, who has urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency there — a call she and others renewed last week.

“People in my community are getting sick left and right,” she said Tuesday of the effects of the sewage pollution on the water as well as the air.

“We cannot afford to continue to punt the responsibility across the border because we have a dire situation here on United States soil, on California soil, that is harming California constituents.”


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