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DelMarVa Beaches In Good Shape, Mostly

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By Sabri Ben Achour

Jon Devine is with the Natural Resources Defense Council. He's been taking a look at the nation's beaches - how often they are closed because of unsanitary conditions, how often much bacteria is in the water, and how closely they're monitored. He says beaches in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia are doing "pretty well, our region's beaches are all in the top ten."

But there are a few exceptions.

NRDC says Tolchester Estates beach in Maryland's Kent County had more harmful bacteria than is allowable: 36 percent of the time, in 2009, according to recently compiled data. In Virginia, Fairview Beach in King George County had unsafe levels of bacteria 25 percent of the time. Devine says the bacteria get to the beach from land.

"Contaminated storm water and sewage that carries human and animal waste to beach water," he says.

But even good beaches are closed occasionally for unsanitary conditions. And, Devine says there's a problem with those advisories.

"Right now, people are warned, essentially, about yesterday's beach water," he says.

That's because the tests for bacteria take a day. So when beaches are closed, it probably means the water has been bad for a few days. Until tests are updated, Devine recommends not swimming after heavy rains, which wash bacteria into the water.

He also discourages swimming at beaches with visible potential sources of pollution, including marinas or drainage pipes.

The full beach report can be found here.

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