Santa Monica Pier is one of the beaches participating in the water quality information program. (Credit: JCS/CC BY-SA 3.0)
At some Southern California beaches, swimmers and surfers can learn about the water quality before diving in, according to a report from Southern California Public Radio 89.3 KPCC. Santa Monica Pier, Doheny State Beach and Arroyo Burro Beach were selected to participate in a water quality information pilot program supported by public health officials, Stanford University and Heal the Bay, an environmental group.
The program centers on a tool, called “Water Quality Nowcast,” that shows real-time water quality information for the beaches. So far, it has been highly accurate and a huge improvement over old methods to keep the public informed. The tool predicts water quality data for each day through a combination of UV data, tides, rainfall, water flow and statistical modeling.
The old method required lab testing and took 48 hours to obtain results. Swimmers, surfers and others using the beaches didn’t know until two days later whether the water quality was poor, often meaning high bacteria counts that can lead to full-body rashes, respiratory infections or upset stomachs.