15 San Diego beaches make ‘honor roll’ for water quality

A steady stream of people visit Sunset Cliffs on May 3, 2020.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Heal the Bay annual report card lists two Baja California beach areas on its ‘Beach Bummer’ ranking for some of most polluted in state

Fifteen beach areas across San Diego County offered ideal conditions for swimmers, while Baja California’s Playa Blanca and the Tijuana Slough were ranked as two of the most polluted beaches in the region, according to Heal the Bay’s annual report Wednesday.

The nonprofit assigned letter grades to 500 beaches across the state. Grades were based on the levels of fecal-indicator bacterial pollution in the ocean, as measured by county health agencies.

Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card included 15 beaches in San Diego County on its “Honor Roll List” for perfect water-quality grades. The local beaches were located in Del Mar, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Point Loma, Sunset Cliffs, Mission Beach and La Jolla.

San Diego County had the second-most beaches make the Honor Roll, trailing only Orange County.

Playa Blanca north of Rosarito, as well as the Tijuana Slough north of the Tijuana River mouth, were both listed on the organization’s “Beach Bummer List,” which ranks the most polluted beaches based on levels of harmful bacteria in the ocean.


Both areas are monitored by San Diego County and impacted by sewage-contaminated runoff originating from Tijuana, according to Heal the Bay.

The report card noted that “impaired and insufficient sewage infrastructure in the city of Tijuana” contributed to millions of gallons of sewage pouring into the Tijuana River and Pacific Ocean. The report also indicated partially treated sewage from the Punta Bandera treatment plant flows north to impact beaches in the border region.

The full report card can be viewed at