California’s beaches: sewage’s up

Malibu BeachPhoto: Laura Rauch

The threat: A 40 percent [PDF] funding cut to sewage treatment programs will leave California beaches contaminated with human waste and industrial pollutants. (Title II; Sec. 433)

California’s signature beaches are threatened by a provision in the Interior bill that drowns nearly half the funding for sewage treatment programs. This will make it very difficult to reduce the state’s storm water drainage, which washes domestic sewage and other pollutants into the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay. Local surfers already know it’s not safe to go back in the water after a big rain, and these funding cutbacks pose a serious health threat to residents and vacationers on California’s coast, which a Natural Resources Defense Council analysis [PDF] ranked No. 22 out of 30 states for beach water quality. The study found that the 400 California beaches were under swim advisory or closed due to contamination for a total of 5,756 days in 2010.