The Green Gate
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Air Water Wildlife Urban Living Health
Beachwater Quality
Better Monitoring Protects Swimmers' Health but Reveals Extensive Pollution
Findings at a glance A broader view What you can do

Take action on the Bay Area's behalf -- and your own. Here are some ways you can swim at clean beaches and help keep them that way.

  • Choose beaches carefully. Swim at beaches that have the cleanest waters or are carefully monitored. Beaches adjacent to open waters are generally safer than urban beaches. Stay away from beaches with visible discharge pipes, and avoid swimming at urban beaches after a heavy rainfall. For more information, see Testing the Waters, NRDC's annual survey of water-quality monitoring and public notification programs at U.S. beaches.

  • Conserve water. Extra water overwhelms sewage treatment plants and contributes to raw sewage overflows. Take shorter showers, turn off the water while you brush your teeth and shave, run washing machines and dishwashers only when they're full.

  • Reduce your use of pesticides and other chemicals on your lawn and garden and in your home. As rain washes over your property it picks up these chemicals, which end up in the ocean. Limit your use of toxic chemicals such as paint thinners and varnish removers, and always dispose of them properly -- never down the sink or in the street; call (800) CLEANUP to learn about safe disposal.

  • Keep household waste and runoff out of coastal waters. Direct runoff from your roof, which can overwhelm sewer and storm-drain systems when it rains, to your lawn or garden. Maintain septic systems; pick up waste when walking your pet and dispose of it in the garbage.

  • You'll find lots more Bay Area green-living tips in our Green Gate Green Guides. And to keep informed and take action on the latest issues affecting the Bay Area and the rest of California, join NRDC's California Activist Network.

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