Beach bums beware: 10% of water samples collected from U.S. beaches failed to meet the government benchmark for swimmer safety, according to a new report.
It's an icky thought, especially considering the popularity of several of the failing beaches included in the Natural Resources Defense Council's 24th annual "Testing the Waters" report.
Beach choices matter: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates up to 3.5 million people become ill from poor water treatment each year, largely because of contact with "raw sewage from sanitary overflows."
"Sewage and contaminated runoff in the water should never ruin a family beach trip," said NRDC senior attorney Jon Devine in a statement. "But no matter where you live, urban slobber and other pollution can seriously compromise the water quality at your favorite beach and make your family sick."
So which beaches are "superstars" and which are "repeat offenders"?
Here's the good, the bad and the ugly.
At 4%, the eastern coastline comprised of beaches in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia boasts the lowest failure rate of beach water samples in the country.
All samples were tested against the new EPA water quality standard, called the "Beach Action Value."
For individual states, Delaware, New Jersey and New Hampshire tied for the top marks, each with a 3% failure rate.
Additionally, the NRDC selected 35 beaches as "superstars" -- meaning popular spots that consistently meet water quality safety thresholds.
These locations spanned 14 states and showed at least a 98% water safety record over five years:
-- Alabama: Gulf Shores Public Beach in Baldwin County, Gulf State Park Pavilion in Baldwin County, Dauphin Island Public Beach.
-- California: Newport Beach in Orange County (one of three monitored sections).
-- Delaware: Dewey Beach-Swedes in Sussex County.
-- Florida: Bowman's Beach in Lee County, Coquina Beach South in Manatee County, Fort De Soto North Beach in Pinellas County.
-- Georgia: Tybee Island North in Chatham County.
-- Hawaii: Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area on the Big Island, Po'ipu Beach Park on Kauai, Wailea Beach Park on Maui.
-- Massachusetts: Singing Beach in Essex County.
-- Maryland: Point Lookout State Park in St Mary's County, Assateague State Park in Worcester County.
-- North Carolina: Ocean Pier at Main Street and Sunset Boulevard in Brunswick County, Beach at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Dare County, Ocean Pier at Salisbury Street at Wrightsville Beach in New Hanover County, Ocean Pier at Ocean Boulevard and Crews Avenue in Topsail Beach in Pender County.
-- New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park in Rockingham County, Wallis Sands Beach at Wallis Road in Rockingham County, Wallis Sands State Park in Rockingham County.
-- New Jersey: Washington (Margate) in Atlantic County, 40th Street (Avalon) in Cape May County, 40th Street (Sea Isle City) in Cape May County, Stone Harbor at 96th Street in Cape May County, Upper Township at Webster Road in Cape May County, Wildwood Crest at Orchid in Cape May County, Broadway (Point Pleasant Beach) in Ocean County
-- New York: Long Beach City in Nassau County.
-- Virginia: Virginia Beach at 28th Street in Virginia Beach County, Virginia Beach at 45th Street in Virginia Beach County, Back Bay Beach in Virginia Beach County, Virginia Beach -- Little Island Beach North in Virginia Beach County.