National report ranks coastal beach contamination

How clean is the water at your favorite beach?


According to an environmental group’s annual report, most Georgia beaches have low levels of pollutants, but several required periodic health advisories in 2011. The state’s coastal waters ranked ninth among 30 states evaluated.

Beach areas are tested periodically for bacteria and other materials often linked to sewage from human or animal waste.

The nationwide report, released Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council, said 2011 yielded the third-highest number of closings or advisories linked to contamination.

Georgia’s beaches yielded few issues, but Tybee Island’s Polk Street monitor detected excessive pollution levels in 13 percent of its samples, yielding advisories on 81 days in 2011. Several other Tybee monitors yielded no issues.

Test results from all 41 monitored Georgia beaches, including those conducted at Jekyll and St. Simons island beaches, are available in the online report’s database.

South Carolina’s 63 monitored beaches, the report said, ranked 17th among the 30 states studied, with one or more advisories reported for Edisto Island, Sullivan’s Island, Garden City Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Briarcliffe Acres beach.