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And the Winners of This Year's NRDC Beach Beauty Contest Are...
A beautiful beach, in the eyes of the Natural Resources Defense Council, doesn't need white sands and azure waves--although those aren't bad.
Every year, the NRDC issues a report that evaluates the country's beaches, awarding star ratings based on cleanliness, water quality and testing and safety procedures. To the NRDC judges, the real knock-outs have low contamination results, test their waters more than once a week, notify the public right away when bacteria levels violate health standards, and post closings and advisories on-premise and online.
Unfortunately, the panel was not impressed with this year's contestants. The report shows that 2011 had the third-highest number of closing and advisory days in more than two decades. However, there were still a few stand-outs, and a dozen beaches received the coveted 5-star rating. So for the country's very best beach....
Without further ado, here are the country's most pristine beaches:
If you local swimming spot didn't make the cut, you can use the searchable map on the NRDC web site to check the water quality, cleanliness and advisory information there. The site also includes a rogue's gallery of the nation's 15 worst "repeat offenders"--which might be good to look at while planning your weekend getaway.
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