SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) – Heal the Bay released its Top 10 California “Beach Bummers” list Tuesday, and here’s the really bad bummer: Half of the beaches are in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The environmental nonprofit group puts together an annual water quality report card grading 500 California beaches “A” through “F.” Stretches of coastline are ranked based on bacterial pollution found in water quality samples taken throughout the year.

Three of the 10 “Bummers” are in San Mateo County: Erckenbrack Park (No. 2), Gull Park (No. 4), and Marlin Park (No. 8). All three beaches are within Foster City, where a network of enclosed channels are impacted by runoff from surrounding residential and commercial developments.

Gull Park in Foster City was ranked No. 4 on the “Beach Bummers” list.

“Regrettably, the Foster City area and San Mateo County as a whole have been plagued with poor water quality in recent years,” the report writes. Last year, six San Mateo County beaches were “Bummers,” mostly in Pillar Point Harbor near Half Moon Bay.

OCEAN WATER QUALITY: Check current water quality conditions near you

Santa Cruz County made the undesirable “Bummers” list with Capitola Beach, a popular spot where families, tourists, and surfers alike flock to on sunny and foggy days alike. Capitola Beach was ranked (No. 3), and the primary source of pollution was traced to pollution flowing out of Soquel Creek.

Capitola Beach ranked No. 3 on the “Bummers” list.

Capitola surfer Autumn Fry said she wishes more people would do their part by picking up trash. Fry has rescued several seabirds she found tangled or sickened by garbage.

“Sadly Soquel Creek has been very polluted this year. The beaches have been packed, so we’ve been finding a lot more trash. All the local surfers pick up what we can find, but unfortunately it’s a lot to keep up with,” Fry said.

Surfer Autumn Fry said she’s seen an increase in trash littered at Capitola Beach.

“I surf here at least four days a week. It’s a beautiful beach. Pick up your trash, make sure you don’t leave stuff behind,” Fry said.

Beach-goers who swim in ocean water graded “C” or lower are at risk of contracting illnesses such as the stomach flu, ear infection, respiratory infection, or rashes. Fifty-seven percent of California beaches had “good B” or “excellent A” grades during wet weather.

“A day at the beach shouldn’t make anyone sick,” said Shelley Luce, President of Heal the Bay.

One beach in San Francisco County, Candlestick Point – Windsurfer Circle, was ranked at No. 9, but what’s causing the pollution remains a mystery to researchers. “There are no flowing storm drains in the area, and a bacteria pollution source has not been identified,” the report writes.

This year’s No. 1 biggest “Beach Bummer” was the Tijuana River Mouth in San Diego County. The river is heavily polluted with raw sewage from the City of Tijuana, Mexico, and it flows across the U.S.-Mexico border before emptying into the ocean on the southern edge of San Diego County.

The No. 1 biggest “Bummer” was Tijuana River Mouth in San Diego County.

Pollutions has plagued this border region for decades.

“Impaired and insufficient sewage infrastructure in the City of Tijuana sends millions of gallons of sewage into the Tijuana River and out into the Pacific Ocean south of Imperial Beach, California,” Heal the Bay wrote. “The United States and Mexican governments must work to address this problem together.”

Heal the Bay said anyone who loves diving into the ocean or even just playing in shore break should follow a few safety tips: Avoid shallow, enclosed beaches with poor water circulation; check for the latest water quality; stay out of the water for at least 72 hours after rainy weather; check in with a lifeguard for best places to swim; and follow local health and safety regulations.

Top 10 ‘Beach Bummers’ of 2020-2021

1. Tijuana River mouth – San Diego County

2. Erckenbrack Park – Foster City, San Mateo County

3. Capitola Beach, west of jetty – Capitola, Santa Cruz County

4. Gull Park, Foster City – San Mateo County

5. Mother’s Beach – Marina del Rey – Los Angeles County

6. Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge – San Diego County

7. Clam Beach County Park at Strawberry Creek – Humboldt County

8. Marlin Park, Foster City – San Mateo County

9. Candlestick Point, Windsurfer Circle – San Francisco County

10. East Beach at Mission Creek – Santa Barbara County

Beach Honor Roll List

Heal the Bay’s “Honor Roll” list includes 35 California beaches that scored perfect water quality grades year-round. Here are the Bay Area beaches that made the Honor Roll list.

  1. Crown Beach, at Sunset Rd. – Alameda County
  2. China Beach, at Sea Cliff Ave. – San Francisco County
  3. Ocean Beach, at Lincoln Way – San Francisco County