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FOCUS: ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY NEWS | Countywide

Study Praises O.C.'s Monitoring of Beaches

July 15, 1998

A new study shows a total of 319 beach closings or advisories in Orange County in 1997, due primarily to pipeline breaks, pump-station problems and elevated bacteria levels.

But the authors of the study by the Natural Resources Defense Council commend the county for monitoring all of its beaches at least once a week, compared with some other beach-rich counties--Ventura and Mendocino among them--that apparently do not have regular monitoring programs.

"The numbers can be deceptive because if you have a monitoring program, you're going to rack up closures," said David Beckman, senior project attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council office in Los Angeles.

He praised Orange County for doing a good job last year of issuing "preemptive advisories" in advance of rainstorms and other problems that could harm water quality. But he was less pleased with California's overall record.

"What stands out about California as a whole is that there's a consistent, underlying problem with pollution at the beach," Beckman said. "We're about to enter the 21st century, and we're still dealing with a 19th century public health problem."

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