ENCINITAS — Cardiff beaches get top marks for clean water in the Heal the Bay annual Beach Report Card.
Cardiff State Beach and San Elijo State Park are on the report card honor roll, along with Morro Bay City Beach in San Luis Obispo County, and Dana Point Harbor Guest Dock in Orange County.
Beaches receiving low water quality marks included Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz County, and Mission Bay in San Diego.
Crystal Najera, city of Encinitas senior environmental specialist, said Encinitas is proud of its beaches.
The city established a Clean Water Program in 1999.
Najera said storm drain runoff creates the greatest source of pollution to local beaches.
The city works to educate businesses and residents about the effects of pollutants, such as motor oil, animal waste, pesticides, and trash, running downstream.
As part of the city’s education efforts there are a series of interpretive signs along Cotton Creek, which start at Cottonwood Creek Park and follow the creek to Moonlight Beach. Each sign provides information about the local watershed.
San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy also works to educate the public on keeping waterways clean. Its nature center displaces information, and docents give on site and classroom lessons.
Barry Lindgren, associate director of San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, said lagoon water monitoring focuses on protecting wildlife.
“We protect the land because it creates connectivity with other habitats, and allows species to continue to flourish,” Lindgren said. “People need to hear those things, they often don’t.”
Consistent weekly monitoring for toxigens is done to ensure a healthy habitat.
Lingren said the monitoring is mundane, and necessary to form a clear long-range picture.
If measurements are off, steps are taken to improve water flow and oxygenation of the estuary.
Toxigin monitoring within the lagoon is done in addition to state required shoreline bacteria monitoring, which test for fecal indi¬cator bacteria at swimming beaches, and ensures ocean water is safe for people to swim and recreate.
Heal the Bay reports that $1.8 million in state funds for California’s Beach Program has helped ensure consistency in where samples are collected, frequency of monitoring, and protocols to notify the public. The funding is approved annually.
The report recommends chronically polluted beaches with continuous bacteria exceedances should have notifications permanently posted, and be sampled three to five times per week.
Additional recommendations are to modify landscaping to reduce water runoff, capture runoff, and increase use of reclaimed water to offset potable demand. Education is also advised.