The Natural Resources Defense Council issued its annual review of pollution at American beaches this week and found that the number of beach closings last year declined by 14 percent from 2011. But that may have been due to a drier season with fewer storms causing run-off pollution into oceans and bays.
More than 80 percent of beach closings and advisories are due to bacteria levels in beachwater exceeding public health standards, according to the council, which indicates the potential presence of human or animal waste in the water.
So how do the Massachusetts beaches fare?
Massachusetts ranked 9th in beachwater quality out of 30 states with 4 percent of its water samples exceeding national standards for designated beach areas in 2012. That’s not horrible, but not exactly stellar either.
The report found that 13 beaches in the state had more than 20 percent of their samples exceed state standards while 253 beaches didn’t have any samples that exceeded the limits. About 150 beaches had 1 percent to 20 percent of samples that went beyond the limits, while 230 beaches aren’t monitored much at all.
Which are the best beaches in the state for water quality? The following received high ratings because of frequent monitoring and few, if any, samples that tested above national pollution standards.
Four out of five stars
1. Carson Beach, at Bathhouse
4. Old Silver 2—North
Three out of five stars
6. Good Harbor
7. Misquamicut State Beach
8. Narragansett Town Beach
Two out of five stars
9. Scarborough State Beach South
10. WingearsheekDeborah Kotz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.