Water Quality Report Card: Dog Beach Gets an “F” and OB Pier Gets an “A+”

by on June 19, 2015 · 3 comments

in California, Environment, History, Ocean Beach

OB Pier surf ride

Paddle for Clean Water, Sept 2009 – OB Pier.

Drought Helps Water Quality at San Diego and Other California Beaches

Grades for OB and Point Loma Beaches Listed Below

The group, Heal the Bay, just released their annual report card on water quality. They assign a letter grade to beaches and coastal areas up and down the West Coast in three categories, the dry season from April to October, dry periods from November through March, and during wet weather.

Perhaps paradoxically, it appears the drought actually is helping water quality and the vast majority of San Diego County beaches reached A or B’s.

But not Dog Beach.

The San Diego River outlet at Dog Beach was one of the locations that received F grades — during wet weather.


Dog Beach on a beautiful day.

This is not that surprising, is it? When it rains, all kinds of stuff flows down the San Diego River and out at Dog Beach and into the Pacific Ocean. Debris, toxins, oils – whatever spills into the major water avenues rushing west when the clouds release their moisture.

On the good side of the news from the report card, the Ocean Beach Pier was one of the San Diego beaches that earned a place on the “Honor Roll” for scoring an “A+” grade.

And all the other OB beaches received very good grades, including the “Stub” jetty, Bermuda, and Ladera.  (What’s weird is even the Point Loma Treatment Plant received A’s.)

Not so just north in the eastern side of Mission Bay, however, where the water is so polluted in the area off the Visitor’s Center, that it was placed on the top 10 worst beaches in California, earning spot number 5 on Heal the Bay’s “Top Ten Beach Bummers”.

Here’s what the report stated about this polluted spot:

Mission Bay Park Visitor’s Center

It has been five-years since a beach location from Mission Bay landed on the Beach Bummer List. Back in 2010, it was Vacation Isle North Cove Beach located on a center island in the middle of Mission Bay.

This year it’s Mission Bay Park Visitor’s Center, located on the eastern shores of Mission Bay, that makes the top five on the Beach Bummer list. As has been written by local boosters, Mission Bay Park Visitor’s Center has “a small cove, good for swimming [that] is a short distance south of the visitor center.”

Unfortunately, from a public health perspective, this past summer at Mission Bay was not the time nor place for bay-goers to have gone swimming.

Overall, San Diego County’s 72 beaches did very well with 96% receiving A or B grades for the period April through October 2014, which had decreased 2% from the average over the last 5 years.

The other San Diego beaches that landed on the “Honor Roll” for earning A+ grades – besides the OB Pier – include:

  • San Elijo State Beach, Encinitas;
  • Cardiff State Beach in front of the Chart House in Encinitas;
  • Point Loma Lighthouse and
  • Silver Strand in Coronado.

Beaches that also received “F” grades – besides Dog Beach – — all during wet weather, include:

  • Cottonwood Creek Outlet at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas,
  • Seascape Surf Beach Park in Solana Beach,
  • the Imperial Beach Pier,
  • the foot of Cortez Avenue in Imperial Beach,
  • the mouth of the Tijuana River, and
  • beaches at Border Field State Park.

Here are the grades for OB’s other as well as a couple from Point Loma (click on charts for larger image – and see Mission Bay chart for category titles):

Heal the Bay Report 2015 OBnPL

Here are the grades for Mission Beach and Mission Bay:

Heal the Bay Report 2015 MBnB


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mindy Elliott June 19, 2015 at 11:17 pm

This is not surprising since run off from Mission valley etc dumps right into the River at Dog Beach. Since 1989 and us proving it was human’s not Dog’s were the source of the pollution. I have saved the article if needed. Most diseases from dogs are not passed to humans ( to keep it simple) Since ACE’s (Albert C. Elliott) hard work we worked w /Vets Lawyers etc to create the “No poop , no problem” slogan. I go there daily. My dog is not sick. He’s 13yrs old. We need to stop blaming and deal w/it. OR NOT. I am more at risk then he is Thankfully. You need the article, contact me, he saved Dog Beach and I am forever grateful. An F yea I got one in Math. Boo Hoo I will see my buds at DB.


Craig Klein June 20, 2015 at 8:18 am

Don’t surf the big jetty after it rains…………Duh!!


Cholly June 21, 2015 at 5:53 am

What are the criteria as concerns pollutants? Might automobile-originated gunk washed off the city streets play a role? What measures are recommended to counter balance this? How does San Diego compare with the rest of the coast?


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