NRDC Ranks Cleanest and Dirtiest U.S. Beaches

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With beach season well underway and the Fourth of July holiday weekend approaching, an environmental advocacy group today released its annual beach report, ranking the nation's cleanest and most contaminated shores.

Judging by water cleanliness and not by beauty, the Natural Resources Defense Council gives its "Superstar Beach" rating to two beaches in Delaware and to one in each Minnesota and New Hampshire.

The NRDC says the dirtiest beaches are in California, primarily in Los Angeles County, with three making the list of beaches with persistent contamination problems.

The NRDC's David Beckman says the number of beach closures and advisories on dirty beaches over the past year is the second-highest since the council has been tracking them, standing at over 24,000.

"The two big problems, when it comes to America's beaches, are pollution runoff in urban areas and from agriculture," Beckman said. "It contains bacteria and viruses that can make you sick if you come into contact with them. And you can also get the same bacteria and viruses from sewage spills."

Michelle Mehta with the NRDC says swimmers exposed to contamination can suffer from "gastrointestinal problems, ear, nose and throat problems, and skin rashes."

Here are the four beaches ranked as "Superstar Beaches" by the NRDC:

Delaware: Rehoboth Beach-Rehoboth Avenue Beach
Delaware: Dewey Beach
Minnesota: Park Point Lafayette Community Club Beach
New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park

And here are the 10 beaches that have had persistent contamination problems:

California: Avalon Beach
California: Cabrillo Beach Station
California: Doheny State Beach
Florida: Keaton Beach
Illinois: North Point Marina North Beach
New Jersey: Beachwood Beach West
Ohio: Villa Angela State Park
Texas: Ropes Park
Wisconsin: Eichelman Beach
Wisconsin: South Shore Beach