Our End of Summer Beach Report Card came out today. This year marked another great summer at the beach, with excellent water quality at nearly every beach in the state. Some 92% of the beaches got A’s and B’s with every county other than L.A. County above the 95% level for A’s and B’s.
Sounds like a great reason to celebrate, no? Unfortunately, to the shock of the State Department of Public Health and the State Water Board, Governor Schwarzenegger unilaterally eliminated all state funding for beach monitoring.
That’s right. The Bush Administration now gives California more money for beach monitoring (about $500K annually) than the state. Without beach monitoring, the governor may as well put “Swim at Your Own Risk” signs up along California’s coast.
Why would the governor eliminate California’s most successful water quality monitoring program? I don’t think the million dollar savings will help our 11-digit budget problems much, yet the budget crisis was the stated reason for the cuts.
Without state funding, monitoring programs in San Diego, Orange, and Ventura counties and much of Northern California are in serious jeopardy. Look for drastic reductions in the number of beaches monitored, the frequency of monitoring and all monitoring during the winter months. Not good news for surfers riding the winter swells.
Despite the inexplicable budget cut, there is still at least $35 million available in Clean Beach Initiative bond dollars to clean up some of the state’s most polluted beaches. Don’t be surprised if the state raids those funds to pay for beach monitoring, which would be an egregious misuse of voter approved bond dollars. Those funds were to be used to clean up polluted beaches, not fill budget gaps from existing programs.