How Clean is Your Beach?

Summer Miller, 5, and her mother Tammy James walk along a beach which was not as busy as last year as people stayed away due to the threat of contamination from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on July 4, 2010 in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Looking for the best beaches to help beat the summer heat? Well, if water quality's key, California's Orange County might offer the best options.

The Natural Resources Defense Council released the results of its annual water quality survey, "Testing the Waters 2010" which measured the most popular beaches around the country by five key criteria.

Most of the beaches that scored well across the board can be found in Orange County, including six different stretches of Laguna Beach. Overall, 11 stretches of beach in the county got stellar marks.

But some other areas perhaps not known for their pristine shorelines also fared well. Two stretches of Minnesota' s Park Point Beach rated as five-star beaches. So did New Hampshire's Hampton Beach State Park and Wallis Sands Beach as well as Alabama's Baldwin Beach.

Find out how your favorite beach rates!

The NRDC rated beaches according to the following criteria: Water quality in 2009 (beaches got stars if fewer than 5 percent of samples exceeded national health standards for bacteria); water quality for the last three years; water quality testing frequency; promptness when issuing health advisories; and posting health advisories both online and at the beach.