Beach Closures and Advisories

Worsened more than 1 percent from
2015 to 2016

How are we doing?

Water quality received a thumbs-down because San Diego County’s total number of beach closures and water quality advisories increased from 81 beach-mile days in 2015 to 92 beach-mile days in 2016. During 2016, the region experienced the most beach-mile days of closures since 2011, mainly due to an 11-day closure of East Mission Bay. In 2016, Carlsbad and Solana Beach had the best water quality among San Diego County beaches, in contrast, Mission Bay and Border Field State Park had a concerning number of water quality issues. See more information.

San Diego County beach closures were up significantly from two beach-mile days in 2015 to 41 in 2016 partly due to an 11-day closure of East Mission Bay. Beach advisories were down from 79 beach-mile days in 2015 to 51 beach-mile days in 2016.

Note: excludes closures due to Tijuana River impacts

Data Source: San Diego County Department of Environmental Health, 2017

Why is it important?

  • Water quality is vital to the conservation of biodiversity – many animals, from migrating birds to various species of fish depend on clean water.
  • Beaches draw many visitors, making water quality critical for growth in San Diego’s billion-dollar tourism industry.
  • Storm drains and river mouths that empty into the ocean can be breeding grounds for microorganisms, leaving swimmers and surfers exposed to a host of bacterial and viral infections.
Beach Water Quality

Beach Advisories and Closures in Beach Mile-Days

(select beaches, 2016)

Beach Advisories
and Closures 2016*

*not including general rain advisories

Carlsbad and Solana Beach had the best water quality among San Diego County beaches in 2016. Mission Bay had poor water quality with nearly 46 beach mile-days of advisories and closures while Border Field State Park/Tijuana Slough National Shoreline had a concerning 245 beach mile-days of advisories and closures.

Data Source: San Diego County Department of Environmental Health, 2017

  Idea for Change

Water runoff is the greatest source of ocean pollution in urban areas. Residents can help prevent runoff by using pesticides and fertilizers sparingly, not dumping anything down storm drains, installing rain barrels, replacing lawns with native landscaping and picking up trash and pet waste. Residents can also take advantage of Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens which provides hands-on training and educates property owners on the application of CPR  conservation, permeability and retention to landscapes, hardscapes and streets. Learn more.

  Bright Spot

Good water quality is not only important for our beaches but also for our watersheds. San Diego Coastkeeper’s volunteer water quality monitoring program is the largest in the state. It trains around 100 volunteers yearly to test freshwater quality from Oceanside to the Tijuana River, in nine of the 11 watersheds in San Diego County. Data collected by Coastkeeper volunteers enables regulators to make more effective and informed decisions on how to reduce sources of pollution. To date, San Diego Coastkeeper has trained more than 1,000 water quality monitoring volunteers. Learn more.

  What are we measuring?

We measure the yearly trend in beach closures by tracking the total number of days San Diego beaches were closed or flagged with advisories due to health risks, measured in beach mile-days (BMD = number of days x length in miles of beach under advisory or closed). We also map out select beaches’ advisories and closures down the San Diego coast. Learn more about the data.