County of Marin - Press Releases - McNears Beach Water Quality

For Immediate Release
July 11, 2014

Tests Show Safe Water at McNears Beach Park

No positive results for high bacteria levels this year

San Rafael, CA – The water quality at McNears Beach Park near San Rafael is safe, is tested weekly and is the subject of regular statistical reports posted online.

Marin County Parks is responding to concerns raised by a study that prompted reports of a recurring problem with water quality at McNears. The reports led to several reservation cancellations at the park despite the recent safe results from water quality tests.

Over the past 10 years, there have been isolated instances of high bacteria levels in the waters off McNears, one of Marin’s most popular waterfront parks and bayfront beaches. Even those few instances of exceeding state thresholds did not meet the state definition of an impaired beach. Water test results at McNears show no instances of exceeding maximum thresholds in 2014.

Weekly water quality test results are submitted to the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, a division of the State of California Environmental Protection Agency. Results are posted by the nonprofit environmental organization Heal the Bay as well as by Marin County Environmental Health Services (EHS), a division of the Marin County Community Development Agency. EHS has a phone hotline (415-473-2335) with the test results from 17 public beaches.

In 2013, there were five days of positive tests out of the weekly samples taken, and McNears earned a B grade from the Heal the Bay website. There were no reported sewage spills in Marin that led to beach closures in 2013. Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis said there have been no public health concerns in 2014 about contaminated water at McNears.

Following County requirements, signs are posted of a potential health hazard if a single sample of high bacteria levels exceeds the state’s maximum safe threshold. The County has recently undertaken testing of the sewer lines serving the park and the adjacent neighborhoods, and the results showed no leaks, ruling out onshore sanitary facilities as a potential point source of the sporadically observed pollution in the bay waters off McNears Beach Park.

San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board is responsible for establishing water quality standards, including those for public health threats. The County works closely with the regional board and the state on water quality monitoring and will continue to make every effort to keep all County parks as clean as possible.


Pat O'Brien
Interim Director and General Manager
Marin County Parks

Marin Civic Center
Suite 260
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6387
Email: Pat O'Brien
Marin County Parks website