Testing the Waters

A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches

2012 Report Findings:

Our nation's beaches continue to experience significant water pollution that hurts local economies and puts the health of beachgoers and swimmers at risk.

Learn More About Your Beach

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Try it at: beachquality.org

Ratings of Popular Beaches

NRDC issued star ratings to 200 popular beaches around the country. The star system awards up to five stars to each popular beach for exceptionally low violation rates and strong testing and safety practices. Criteria include testing more than once a week, notifying the public promptly when tests reveal bacteria levels violating health standards, and posting closings and advisories both online and at the beach. Last year, twelve beaches last received a 5-star rating.

NRDC Ratings for a Selection of U. S. Popular Beaches

County Beach Name Stars % of samples exceeding national standards Monitoring frequency Posts closings/ advisories online and at beach Closings/advisories issued promptly
2011 2010 2009


  1. Beginning in 2012, all NJ beaches notify promptly.
  2. Many beaches in Florida have a reduced monitoring frequency in 2012 compared to 2011.
  3. Lingering impacts from the 2010 BP oil disaster aren't considered in the beach ratings.
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