Old Orchard Beach Credit: Brian Feulner

How do you prepare for a day on the coast? Suncreen? Check. An umbrella if it’s a day trip? Check. Extra water to quell that mid-afternoon thirst? Of course.

While these items and more may be what come to mind when thinking about appropriate safety measures for a day in the waves, it’s also important to consider the safety and cleanliness of the waves you’re playing in. According to data gathered by the National Resources Defense Council in 2013, Maine ranked near last of all oceanfront states for beach water quality.

Some of the safest and cleanest beaches in Maine:

  • Sand Beach at Acadia National Park
  • Scarborough Beach in Scarborough
  • Crescent Beach in Wells
  • Fortune’s Rocks Beach in Biddeford
  • Mile Beach at Reid State Park
  • Middle Beach in Biddeford
  • Pemaquid Beach in Bristol
  • Sea Point Beach in Kittery
  • Center and East Beaches at Popham

None of the water samples from these beaches contained a level of pathogens considered risky.

The most polluted:

  • Wells Harbor Beach  (with 57 percent of samples exceeding acceptable bacteria levels),
  • Laite Memorial Beach in Camden (44 percent),
  • Goodies Beach in Rockport(43 percent)
  • Cape Neddick Beach in York (42 percent)

Across Maine, 19 percent of beaches sampled showed excessive levels of bacteria in their water samples.

A video recently published by Slate provides more detail about how the Natural Resources Defense Council reviews and scores water quality by measuring the presence of potentially harmful environmental pathogens that might infect your favorite summer swimming spot.

What causes our beaches to become contaminated with bacteria, viruses and other potentially harmful pathogens? The largest contributor to beaches closing down and health advisory days is stormwater pollution, according to the NRDC.

Everyone hates a bathing suit that chafes, but a beach trip that makes you ill? No, thank you.

This means that you may want to watch the weather a little more closely this summer and make sure you don’t go for a swim after a big rain storm. You can find NRDC’s complete findings about Maine beaches by clicking here.