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Water quality report card shows grades for public beaches around Boston

Massachusetts issues water safety tips for summer beach-goers
Massachusetts issues water safety tips for summer beach-goers 00:48

BOSTON - The water quality at some Boston-area beaches has dropped in the past year after a deluge of rain, but an environmental group says local swimming spots can still claim to be "the cleanest urban beaches in the country."

Save The Harbor/Save The Bay released its Metropolitan Beaches Water Quality Report Card on Monday. It says the overall water quality safety rating for Boston Harbor beaches is 85%, down from last year's 93% grade following "the rainiest summer in the Boston area since 1955."

Safety grades for Boston-area beaches

Pleasure Bay, City Point and M Street beaches in South Boston all earned a safety rating of 100% in 2023, according to the report card. The others scoring over 88% were Revere Beach, Carson Beach, Nantasket Beach in Hull, Constitution Beach and Wollaston Beach in Quincy. 

The Beach Season Water Quality Report Card Save The Harbor/Save The Bay

Two Dorchester beaches, Malibu and Tenean beaches, were near the bottom with grades of 76% and 73%, respectively. But the "outlier" of the group is King's Beach in Lynn with a rating of 55% - its lowest grade in at least five years.

"King's Beach is an outlier in the Boston area," Save the Harbor Executive Director Chris Mancini said in a statement. "It's a difficult and complex infrastructure challenge that has required dozens of meetings between stakeholders at every level of community and government. We're very lucky to have such a committed, collaborative group from Lynn, Swampscott, the state and the federal government focused on trying to turn this beach around." 

Excessive bacteria can close beaches

At the beginning of June nearly 20 Massachusetts beaches, including Wollaston, were closed due to "bacterial exceedance." Stormwater run-off and sewer overflows after heavy rain are the two root causes of excessive bacteria in the water.

"Until technology can catch up, our best advice is to follow the 24 hour rule and simply wait a day after a significant rainfall before returning to water," Mancini said. "Except in South Boston where you can swim every day of the year."

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