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How clean is beachwater where you vacation?

Wednesday - 6/27/2012, 7:17am  ET

Ocean City fishing (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)
A fisherman enjoys the surf in North Ocean City. The beachwater in North Ocean City has a five-star ranking. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com
Colleen Kelleher, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Beachwater doesn't get any better than in Dewey Beach, Rehoboth and Bethany Beach, according to an environmental group's annual assessment of surf at the nation's beaches.

Delaware ranked No. 1 in beachwater quality in the study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which maps more than 6,000 beaches nationwide.

The NRDC's ratings show Middle Atlantic beaches as the cleanest in the country.

Dewey Beach and Ocean City, Md.'s beach near 136th Street ranked as five-star beaches, the top rating given by the group. Only 12 beaches nationwide made that elite list.

New Hampshire holds the No. 2 spot for states states with the best beachwater quality, while North Carolina, another popular vacation destination for D.C.-area residents, ranked third in the nation. Virginia ranked sixth in the country, right behind Florida.

Nationally, bacterial contamination from stormwater runoff and sewage made 2011 of of the worst in decades for health-related closings.

Ocean City's water was as clean as Delaware's, but Maryland ranked No. 11 in the country, according to the group's analysis of water testing.

Maryland has 70 coastal beaches including many on the Chesapeake Bay, which is subjected to more runoff and sewage than Atlantic Ocean beaches.

Top 5 Rankings by State

  • Delaware
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • New Jersey
  • Florida
  • Virginia

5-Star Beaches

  • Alabama: Gulf Shores Public Beach
  • Alabama: Gulf State Park Pavilion
  • California: Bolsa Chica Beach
  • California: Huntington State Beach, Brookhurst Street
  • California: Newport Beach, 38th Street, 52nd/53rd Street
  • Delaware: Dewey Beach
  • Maryland: Ocean City at Beach 6 (136th Street)
  • Minnesota: Park Point Franklin Park / 13th Street South Beach
  • Minnesota: Park Point Lafayette Community Club Beach
  • New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park
  • New Hampshire: Wallis Sands Beach at Wallis Road
  • Texas: South Padre Island (Town of South Padre Island)

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