Winthrop Beach Receives High Marks for Water Quality

Thursday, June 6, 2013
By John Lynds

Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of summer and soon Winthrop residents will flock to area beaches to soak up the sun and take a dip in the ocean.

In a new report by the leading Boston Harbor environmental advocacy group ranked Winthrop Beach in the Top 10 on its water quality report card.

Save the Harbor / Save the Bay released the report on the region’s public beaches from Nahant to Nantasket and Winthrop Beach scored 100% in 2012.

The score was the result of assessed water quality conditions at the beach and the group looked at the percentage of tests exceeding the state swimming standard of 104 cfu/100ml.

The score means Winthrop Beach is one of the cleanest and safest to swim at during the summer months.

“2012 was  a good year for most of the Boston Harbor region’s public  beaches, with more than half earning either an A or an A plus,”  said Director of Strategy, Communications and  Programs at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay Bruce Berman. “It was also a dry year, which explains most of the  changes we saw from 2011. Bacterial pollution is often caused by  storm water discharges that accompany summer showers, squalls  and storms, so less rain means cleaner water.”

The results of Winthrop Beach’s water quality were made public at the initial meeting of Save the Harbor’s Beaches Science Advisory Committee Sunday. The committee was convened to conduct a systematic review of water quality and beach flagging accuracy on the region’s public beaches from Nahant to Nantasket.

Flagging  accuracy improved somewhat in 2012, as a direct result of Department of Conservation and Recreation’s  continuing efforts to develop more accurate models for beach  management on a beach-by-beach basis.

“While  specificity (blue flag accuracy) is fairly high on many beaches,  sensitivity (red flag accuracy) continues to be problematic,  with less than 50% of the red flags posted correctly on some  beaches in 2012.,” said Berman. “This issue needs to be  addressed if we are to protect both the public’s  health and their right to enjoy the benefits of our region’s  pubic investment in clean water and better beaches.”

In 2013,  Save the Harbor will continue to work with the Metropolitan  Beaches Commission (MBC), the DCR, MWRA, EPA, DEP, the  Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Beaches  Science Advisory Committee to develop more accurate models to  better predict when to post or flag a beach.

“At Save  the Harbor/Save the Bay our goal is clean water and not simply  better models or faster and more accurate test results,” said Berman. “We are  working towards the day when there is no need for flags at all.”

You can  download the report card, see the data and learn more about the methodology on which the report card is based at www.savetheharbor.org/beachesreportcard.

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