San Mateo County has most polluted beaches on West Coast

It may be tempting to flock to Bay Area beaches when hot summer weather hits, but beachgoers might want to choose that refuge carefully. Three Bay Area beaches made this year’s list of the top 10 most polluted beaches on the West Coast.

All of the beaches that made this year’s “Beach Bummer” list, released today by environmental advocacy group Heal the Bay, are in San Mateo County. Erckenbrack Park was named the second dirtiest beach in the 2021-2022 report, and the Foster City beach appeared on the list for the third straight year. Nearby Marlin Park was included in the top 10 for the second consecutive year, and Lakeshore Park has been among the most polluted five times in the past 10 years.

It’s unlikely that these beaches will ever escape unfortunate ratings. While the beaches can be attractive due to their calm, protected waters since each beach is “enclosed,” that also means there is poor water circulation, which can make for bad water quality. The prevalence of these beaches means tough ratings often occur in San Mateo County, although the county actually fared better than in previous years — the county had six beaches included in the 10 most polluted list in 2020.

Other beaches featured on the “Beach Bummer List” were in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles and Humboldt counties.


San Francisco’s Windsurfer Circle at Candlestick Point fell off this year’s top 10 list after being named the ninth most polluted beach on the West Coast in 2021.

Not one Bay Area beach made it onto the “honor roll” this year, which lists the coast’s cleanest beaches. However, many Northern and Central California counties don’t measure beach water quality year-round, excluding them from the ability to make the list.

Playa Blanca, a beach near Tijuana, Mexico, is the most polluted beach for 2021-2022, and another Tijuana-area beach took the title the previous year.

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