Dirty birds



Dear old Clam Beach has made the list that no self-respecting body of sand and surf would want to be on: The Top Ten Beach Bummers. Heal the Bay, a nonprofit environmental group, puts this list together each year as part of an annual water quality report card issued for more than 500 California beaches (you can weekly updates, however, as well). The 18th annual, 91-page report card -- for 2007-2008 -- was released today.

The report cards are based on stats gathered year round by local health departments, who test their beaches for three types of pollution-indicator bacteria regularly during three periods: April to October; dry weather year-round; and wet weather year-round. Beaches are graded on an A-F scale for water quality.

Clam Beach, near Strawberry Creek, scored an F between April and October, as well as for dry weather -- its lowest grades yet. Moonstone Beach, near the Little River, scored a C during those same periods. The other three beaches tested -- Trinidad, Luffenholtz, and the Mad River Mouth (north) -- scored much better, As and Bs, and all did well in wet weather year-round.

According to the report, one in 25 people get sick swimming or surfing in polluted water near flowing storm drains (yick, anyway). No surprise, most of the bummer beaches were in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

But Clam Beach’s filth apparently came from elsewhere, anyway, says the report:

In June 2005, Humboldt DEH began systematic collection of bird population data at both Moonstone Beach and Clam Beach. Both of these locations have substantial and growing resident bird populations. Also, Humboldt County experienced some unusual rain events during the AB411 time period last year. Over an inch of rain fell in July 2007 and three inches of rain fell in early October. The large bird populations coupled with the summer rains are believed to have contributed to many of the bacterial exceedances at Moonstone and Clam Beach last summer.

Damned flyway.

See the report .

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