CLEVELAND -- The Natural Resources Defense Council says, when it comes to storm water runoff and sewage pollution that can make swimmers ill, Cuyahoga County's Euclid State Park and Villa Angela State Park are among worst in the U.S.
The NRDC's 22nd annual beach water report, "Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches" looked at issues on both coasts and in the Great Lakes.
The results? Not good for Lake Erie, so said the NRDC at a press briefing at the Great Lakes Science Center.
The report looks at 2011 data collected from test results taken at more than 3,000 beaches nationwide. It examines the pollution factors that affect these U.S. vacation spots and calls for public efforts to clean up.
The report found that in 2001, the nation's beach waters continued to be affected by serious contamination and pollutants from human and animal waste.
As a result, America's beaches had the third-highest number of closings or advisories in the report's history, with the second-highest number occurring just the year before.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 10 trillion gallons of untreated storm water makes its way into surface waters each year, and hundreds of billions of gallons of wastewater -- which includes sewage and storm water -- are released in combined sewer overflows.
The NRDC report is not all bleak. It includes a guide that rates the water quality and practices for testing water and administering public notifications at each beach.
When a seashore exceeds the NRDC's expectations, it receives a 5-star rating.
Beaches that rated five stars with last year's data are:
California: Newport Beach in Orange County (Newport Beach - 38th Street and Newport Beach - 52nd/53rd Street); Bolsa Chica Beach in Orange County; and Huntington State Beach in Orange County
Alabama: Gulf Shores Public Beach and Gulf State Park Pavilion in Baldwin County
Delaware: Dewey Beach in Sussex County
Maryland: Ocean City at Beach 6 in Worcester County
Minnesota: Park Point Franklin Park / 13th Street South Beach Park Point in St. Louis County and Lafayette Community Club Beach, also in St. Louis County
New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park andb Wallis Sands Beach in Rockingham County
Texas: South Padre Island in Cameron County
The report also noted the top 15 "Repeat Offenders," beaches that continually have high bacteria counts.
These beaches over the last five years have had persistent contamination problems, with water samples violating public health standards more than 25 percent of the time for each year from 2007 to 2011.
Ohio: Euclid State Park in Cuyahoga County and Villa Angela State Park in Cuyahoga County
California: Avalon Beach in Los Angeles County (3 of 5 monitored sections): - Avalon Beach - West of Green Pleasure Pier (50 feet) - Avalon Beach - West of Green Pleasure Pier (100 feet) - Avalon Beach - East of Green Pleasure Pier
California: Doheny State Beach in Orange County (3 of 6 monitored sections): - Doheny State Beach - North of San Juan Creek - Doheny State Beach - Surfzone at Outfall - Doheny State Beach - 1000' South Outfall
Illinois: Winnetka Elder Park Beach in Cook County and North Point Marina North Beach in Lake County
Louisiana: Constance Beach in Cameron County, Gulf Breeze in Cameron County, Little Florida in Cameron County, Long Beach in Cameron County, and Rutherford Beach in Cameron County
New Jersey: Beachwood Beach West in Ocean County
New York: Woodlawn Beach, Woodlawn Beach State Park in Erie County, and Ontario Beach in Monroe County
Wisconsin: South Shore Beach in Milwaukee County
If your favorite beach is not on either of these lists, you can go to the NRDC's website for more information.
NRDC's ratings of popular beaches
For the first time this year, the NRDC's report includes a zip code searchable map of more than 3,000 beaches nationwide, making it easier than ever for users to check the water quality of their beaches.