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Study: Californians Had Summer Of Clean Beaches

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — California beachgoers enjoyed another summer of clean water, according to an annual study released Tuesday.

An estimated 92 percent of the 447 beaches along the state’s coast that were tested for bacterial pollution from Memorial Day through Labor Day appeared clean, according to Heal the Bay.

The Santa Monica-based environmental organization, which oversees the “Beach Report Card,” studied levels of bacteria found in water samples taken by local agencies from Humboldt County on the north coast to the Mexico border.

The situation is also looking up for some of the state’s most polluted beaches. All the sites tested in the port city of Long Beach appeared clean, and the city of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island is expected to spend $5 million to repair a deteriorating sewer system that has been contributing to high pollution levels.

Meanwhile, legislators approved a bill that would replace funding for water testing that was cut in 2008 due to the budget crisis. Since that time, many coastal communities relied on local general funds or volunteers for reduced testing. The state water board had provided funding through 2011, but there was no secured state funding for next year.

The bill, which is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, would funnel permit fees collected by the state water board to fund beach water quality monitoring.

Most bacterial contamination occurs during winter, when heavy rains overload storm drains and sewage systems, washing waste into the sea. Swimming in such pollution can cause gastrointestinal, respiratory and other illnesses.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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