(WASHINGTON) — The annual list of the cleanest — and dirtiest — beaches is out.
The Natural Resources Defense Council examined the water quality at more than 3,000 U.S. beaches along the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes. It then rated the 200 most popular sites.
The council, which has been reporting on the state of U.S. beaches for the last 23 years, found that in 2012, those sandy, sunny vacation spots had more than 20,000 closing and advisory days — for the third straight year.
According to the council, “the largest known contributor to beach closings or health advisory days was stormwater pollution.”
After analyzing the violation rates and practices regarding bacteria testing and public safety at the 200 popular U.S. beaches, the council awarded 13 with the highest rank of five stars.
Those beaches included Alabama’s Gulf State Park Pavilion, California’s Newport Beach, Rehoboth Beach in Delaware and Minnesota’s Lafayette Community Club.
Before you head to the shore, click here to see how your beach ranks.
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