Jul 30, 2020

Save the Harbor/Save the Bay Releases Beach Water Quality Report Card

According to the report, 2019 was one of the wettest years on record for Massachusetts

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Save the Harbor/Save the Bay released its annual report on the water quality for metropolitan beaches in Boston.

According to the Annual Beach Water Report Card, Constitution Beach scored an A. The beach’s water quality slipped four points in the summer of 2019 and posted its lowest grade since the summer of 2015.

Overall, Constitution Beach’s six-year average for water quality is 93%. 

“Changes in the intensity and frequency of summer storms often explain the variations we see on our beaches from year to year,” said Save the Harbor. “These seasonal variations are why Save the Harbor/Save the Bay is reluctant to draw conclusions from a single year’s sampling results, preferring to rely on the multi-year average we have included in this report.”

According to the report, 2019 was one of the wettest years on record for Massachusetts, and part of the wettest 12-month stretch in the state’s 124 years of record keeping. 2019 saw weekly water quality testing at Boston’s regional beaches, beginning on May 23. Supplemental daily testing of Constitution Beach, King’s Beach, Malibu Beach, Tenean Beach, and Wollaston Beach began on Jun. 13 and testing concluded on Sept. 1.

The results are as follows:

  • Nahant Beach, Constitution Beach and Nantasket Beach scored between 90% and 97%, according to the report. 
  • Short Beach, Revere Beach, Wollaston Beach and Malibu Beach scored between 83% and 88%. 
  • Savin Hill Beach, Winthrop Beach, King’s Beach and Tenean Beach scored less than 80% in 2019.

“Changes in the intensity and frequency of summer storms often explain the variations we see on our beaches from year to year,” said Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Bruce Berman. “These seasonal variations are why Save the Harbor/Save the Bay is reluctant to draw conclusions from a single year’s sampling results, preferring to rely on the multi-year average we have included in this report.”

The overall water quality safety rating for Boston Harbor’s regional beaches owned by the Commonwealth and managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation was 88%, which is a decline from the 2018 score of 94%, according to the report. 

According to Berman, one critical weakness of the beach posting and flagging program, where bacteria testing triggers advisories, is that postings are always a day late because beach managers must wait 24 to 36 hours after a sample is collected to obtain test results. 

“Beach water quality may have already changed significantly during this period, and the prior day’s test does not necessarily reflect current conditions,” Berman added. 

Read related content about water quality testing: 

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