Local News

Heal the Bay Releases Its Annual Beach Report Card

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (KTLA) — A Southern California beach with dirty history is getting a fresh do-over.

San Clemente’s Poche Beach was once filled with bird poop, trash, and germ infested water.

“This place gets a nickname. It’s called the polio pond,” San Clemente city engineer Tom Bonigut said.

Bonigut has reason to cheer. After some serious efforts by the city and others, recent tests of Poche’s water quality showed a huge improvement.

For years, Poche Beach received ‘F’ grades for its cleanliness and water quality, including this year. However, in the last two months, that grade has risen all the way to an ‘A+’.

Environmental watch dog Heal the Bay says that Poche is making progress. The organization just released their annual beach health report cards.

Kite Surfer Eric Carlston has spent years in the waters off San Clemente. He told KTLA that the filthy water would make him sick.

“I used to get sore throats,” Carlston said.

The surfer’s health troubles came before San Clemente began its ‘clean beach project’ and installed new systems to tackle problems with seagulls and sewer runoff.

“Now I’ve had no problems. I haven’t been sick at all,” Carlston said.

Tim Karnes and his wife Vicki wouldn’t even bring their grandkids to Poche Beach for the longest time, they said.

“No. Not at all,” Tim said. “There were signs posted about the danger. There was too much bacteria in the water. Now it seems to be getting better.”

As Heal the Bay’s reports show, Southern California’s beaches are cleaning up their act, but the guys fixing Poche know their work is far from over.

“We’re not declaring victory yet. It’s an ongoing process,” Bonihut said.

“We’ve engaged a lot of stakeholders, including the community. And we’re still looking at methods to improve water quality here,” he said.

–Steve Kuzj, KTLA News

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