Water quality at local beaches gets good marks from environmental group

Beach water quality in San Luis Obispo was generally excellent over the past year, but the beach south of the Pismo Pier continues to have problems.

The Santa Monica-based environmental group Heal the Bay issued its annual beach report card today. It covers 19 popular beaches that are monitored year round by the county Department of Environmental Health. The report card covers from April 2010 to March 2011.

“Dry weather water quality in San Luis Obispo County was excellent,” the report concluded.

The beach just south of the Pismo Pier continues to have the county’s worst water quality. A Cal Poly study has determined that bird droppings from the pier are the main cause of high bacteria levels.

“Though the Pismo Beach Pier location is no stranger to the Beach Bummer list, this year it managed to narrowly avoid being one of California’s 10 most polluted beaches,” stated the report.

Other beaches had water quality problems during wet times of year when storms wash pollutants into the creeks. Four of the 19 beaches received poor grades.

However, this rate was better than the state average. Locations with wet weather water quality problems are Avila Beach at San Juan Street, Sewers at Silver Shoals Drive, Pismo Beach Pier, and Pismo Beach at Ocean View.

Three sewage spills were reported in San Luis Obispo County during the past year. All of them occurred in strong storms in December. One large spill caused a nine-day closure at Pismo Beach.