Water Quality Report Card

The environmental advocacy organization Save the Harbor/Save the Bay released their annual Beach Water Quality Report Card on the Metropolitan Region’s public beaches on Sunday, May 27, 2018 – just in time for Memorial Day.

The report card is based on water quality data collected during the 2017 beach season on 15 public beaches in 10 communities, including Lynn, Swampscott, Nahant, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull.

Here is a snapshot of the results. Click here to download the complete report.

As you can see, M Street, City Point and Carson Beach in South Boston, and Nantasket Beach in Hull were at the top of the list, while Tenean Beach in Dorchester was the lowest-scoring beach in the region again in 2017.

According to Bruce Berman, Director of Strategy & Communications at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, we saw a slight decline in water quality in 2017 over 2016. “These results are not surprising, since 2017 was a relatively rainy swimming season for Boston Harbor,” said Berman. “The seasonal rainfall total was 12.1 inches, which is markedly higher than the 5.3 inches we saw in 2016.”

There was surprising news from King’s Beach in Lynn and Swampscott, which has consistently lagged behind other area beaches in water quality since 2012, when we began this project. King’s scored 92% this year, compared to last year’s 83%. While this year’s results may well be an anomaly, working with EEA and Save the Harbor’s Beaches Science Advisory Committee both Lynn and Swampscott have planned improvements to their sewer and storm water systems, which we expect will result in significant improvement in water quality on King’s Beach when they are completed.

“This variation is why we are reluctant to draw conclusions from a single year’s sampling results” said Berman. “Though we understand why it’s interesting to see where water quality improved or declined versus the previous year, we urge the public to use the multi-year averages we have provided in comparing relative water quality among beaches.”


Save the Harbor/Save the Bay would like to thank Dr. Judy Pederson, Chair of our Beaches Science Advisory Committee for her guidance in developing the methodology we use in this report. We would also like to thank The Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, David Wu and the MWRA, DCR’s Dennis Fitzgerald, Kelly Coughlin of Stony Brook Partners, Ben Wetherill of Coastal Sensors, and Save the Harbor Beach Water Quality and Policy Analyst, Melissa Miller.

Thanks as well to The Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Metropolitan Beaches Commission Co-Chairs Senator Brendan Crighton of Lynn and Rep. RoseLee Vincent of Revere and each of the legislative and community members of the Commission for their commitment to clean water and the region’s public beaches from Nahant to Nantasket.

Download a copy of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Urban Beach Study study comparing the South Boston Beaches with iconic urban beaches in New York, Virginia, Florida, Californian and Hawaii.

The methodology we used to prepare the report card was presented at
Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Beaches Science Advisory Committee meeting
at the Exchange Conference Center on Boston’s Fish Pier on Wednesday, May 30 2012.
MWRA Presentation (Background and Water Quality Testing Methods)
EPA Presentation (Past and Future Water Quality Criteria)
EPA Presentation (Rapid Testing Methods)
Save the Harbor / Save the Bay’s Report (Beach Safety ad Flagging Accuracy)

Here are two useful papers – on Antecedent Rain and
an analysis of posting based on the Previous Day’s Results.
View Save the Harbor’s television commercial about beach flagging.
For insight into our values, view our short video “Water Power” or visit our webpage at www.savetheharbor.org