Boston-area beach ratings making waves

Boston-area beachgoers soaked up the sun Saturday, but many were unaware of the water quality ratings by Save The Harbor that show some beaches are lacking cleanliness.

King’s Beach on the Lynn-Swampscott line got the worst grade, a 75% last year, on the 2019 Metropolitan Beaches Water Quality Report Card, created by Save The Harbor/Save The Bay.

The organization assesses water quality by looking at the percentage of bacteria counts in swimming areas that are tested daily or weekly and abide by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s sample limit for bacteria.

Antoinette White of Beverly, who was walking her dog, Malaya, at King’s Beach, said, “I wouldn’t come swimming here … I wouldn’t even let my dog in there.”

“Sometimes it’s dirty. There’s a lot of yucky brown stuff that smells,” said White. King’s Beach was tested daily last year and had 67 samples with high bacteria out of 270 total samples.

Deborah Burke of Lynn also noted the smell and attributed it to a large amount of seaweed that often floats by during the summer months.

“I know people across the street that say they can’t open their windows because of the smell,” said Burke, who lives just a few minutes from King’s Beach. “Obviously I don’t like a beach when you get that smell and all that seaweed.”

Beaches in South Boston consistently scored well, with M Street Beach and Pleasant Bay taking perfect scores in 2018. Winthrop Beach, Nahant Beach and Savant Hill Beach in Dorchester also received perfect scores on the water quality report card.

But Rachel Scotch of Everett didn’t agree with the positive Southie scores. “I’ve been to some beaches in Southie, and they aren’t so great,” said Scotch.

Allie of South Boston echoed Scotch, saying, “I would never go swimming at Southie beaches.” Allie, who didn’t want to provide her last name, spent Saturday at Nahant Beach, noting its cleanliness and calm atmosphere.

Revere Beach, which attracted a steady crowd Saturday, scored a 98% with just one high bacteria sample out of 60.

Julie Sbraccia of Wilmington, who went to fly a kite at Revere Beach to celebrate her birthday, said, “They’ve really done a lot here to clean the place up … This beach is much cleaner than it was.”

Julie’s cousin Laura Sbraccia of Beverly added that beaches in Lynn are her least favorite. “It’s very smelly down there at the beaches in Lynn.”

Overall, Boston beaches have been improving — the water quality safety rating for Boston Harbor’s regional beaches was 95%, a slight improvement over last year’s score of 94%.

2018 was the wettest year on record for Massachusetts with 61 inches of rain. Large rain events can impact bacteria levels in the water. Last year’s large rain events provide a good predictor of summer storms, which may become increasingly common in the future, according to the Save The Harbors report.

Luis Abreu of East Boston, who enjoyed an afternoon at Constitution Beach, was happy to hear it scored a 94% on the water quality report card.

“I’m all about cleaning. I like it to be clean … You don’t see cans of beer, it’s more family and it has been changing,” said Abreu.

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