MANATEE -- Manatee County’s Coquina Beach South got three stars out of five in a new beach report issued Wednesday, and its sister, Coquina Beach North, earned one star.
Five nearby Sarasota beaches earned three stars each, including Siesta Key; North and South Lido Beach; Lido Casino Beach and North Jetty Park Beach.
Compiled by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the report provided a five-star rating guide to 200 of the nation’s most popular beaches, evaluating them for water quality and best practices for testing and public notification.
In its 21st year, the annual report titled “Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches” analyzed government data on beach water testing results from 2010 at more than 3,000 beach testing locations nationwide.
The report found that last year, the nation’s beach water continued to suffer from serious contamination -- including oil, and human and animal waste – and a concerted effort to control future pollution is required.
“Clean beach water is not only good for public health, it supports healthy coastal economies that generate billions of dollars and support millions of American jobs,” said David Beckman, director of the council’s water program. “By taking steps to stop the biggest sources of pollution in the waves, we can help keep trips to beach carefree, and support our lucrative tourism industries nationwide.”
It rated Florida sixth in the nation for the percent of beach water samples tested that exceeded the national standard last year. Among other states, New Hampshire ranked No. 1; New Jersey, 2; Oregon, 3; Hawaii, 4; and Delaware, 5.
In the report, Coquina Beach South got three stars, one representing good water quality in 2010; one representing good water quality for the last three years; and one for regular posting of closings/advisories online and at the beach if the water was unhealthy for swimming.
Coquina Beach North got one yellow star for regular posting of closings/advisories online and at the beach. Its water quality generally was good in data posted at the Florida Department of Health’s website, but this week it was rated “poor.”
Also featured in the report’s data was the percent of water quality testing samples that exceeded national standards, which at Coquina Beach North was listed at 7.69 percent; 0 percent; and 1.85 percent, respectively, for the years 2010, 2009 and 2008.
The report listed zeroes in that category during the last three years for Coquina Beach South.
It noted that both Manatee beaches had once-weekly water quality testing, and that both posted closing/advisories online and at the beach; but that neither “always issued advisories promptly” when the water was unhealthy for swimming.
“I think in general, the water quality testing done here in Manatee County -- they really do a great job, and keep everybody informed about what’s going on,” said Jay Moyles, Manatee County’s chief of marine rescue. He noted that the county is among 33 Gulf Coast beach areas that participate in Mote Marine Laboratory’s Beach Conditions Reporting System, a twice-daily report that can be found online at www.mote.org/beaches, or on the telephone, by calling (941) BEACHES.