The number of U.S. beach closings and advisories caused by pollution rose by 50 percent from 1997 to 1999, according to the latest annual beach quality report from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Last year there were 6,160 beach closings throughout the country, more than half of them in California and most of them caused by sewage or polluted storm water runoff. In contrast, there were only 484 closings or advisories in 1988. But this increase does not necessarily indicate dramatic rises in pollution; rather, it is likely due at least in part to better monitoring. California began a comprehensive beach monitoring program in 1999, and Florida and Massachusetts enacted laws this year to establish such programs. A federal bill that would require consistent water quality testing at beaches around the country has passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate.