The Natural Resources Defense Council released its ratings list for beaches around the U.S. and Alabama’s Gulf Shores Public Beach. It’s the highest ranking available by the NRDC.
Gulf Shores recieved a star for each of the following: water quality in 2008, water quality the last 3 years, water quality testing frequency, always issues advisories promptly, posts closings and advisories online and at the beach.
There were no other Gulf Coast beaches that recieved 5 stars. In fact, not many beaches around the country have been so honored. Most of the other 5 star beaches are in California, NH, MN, and MD (Ocean City, where I hung out as a child). A large number of beaches had 4 stars. Why? Well, if these beaches had tested their water more frequently, they too would be 5 star beaches. NRDC gives a star if you test at least twice a week.
Unfortunately most FL beaches fell way short of the 5 stars. Edgewater Beach, Silversands Beach, and the Santa Rosa beaches all fell short one star. Again it was the testing the water issue. But that doesn’t make them a horrible beach. They’re doing everything else ok: good water quality and diligent postings when there is a problem. I guess NRDC just wants the beach towns to pay more attention to the water quality.
Along the Gulf Coast, Texas and Louisiana both had 2 four-star beaches. Mississippi beaches ranked only 2 stars for issuing and posting advisories.
Here’s a link to the list of 200 popular US beaches and their NRDC rating: http://www.nrdc.org/water/oceans/ttw/200beaches.asp