Photo: Tom Twigg
American beaches “continue to suffer from serious water pollution that puts swimmers at risk,” concludes the Natural Resources Defense Council in an annual report. There were 22,571 pollution-related closures or warning advisories on 3,516 beaches in 2007, says the report, second only to the all-time high 25,643 closures or warnings in 2006. NRDC attributed the decline to less rainfall in the West and Hawaii in 2007, which caused less overflow from sewer systems and storm drains. But stormwater runoff still caused nearly half of the closures and warnings, and pollution at 7 percent of the beaches exceeded national health standards. Says NRDC’s Nancy Stoner, “Some families can’t enjoy their local beaches because they are polluted and kids are getting sick — largely because of human and animal waste in the water.” Ew. In many places, dunes, beach grass, and other natural buffers have been wiped out by encroaching development, the report noted; it called for improved monitoring and tougher federal standards for beach water quality.