Check the water safety at your favorite beach.

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What is the water like where you swim—not the temperature, but the quality? An annual report released by NRDC, Testing the Waters, rates the 200 most popular U.S. beaches. The most recent installment concludes that beach water quality is not improving. Not only does every coastal state suffer from polluted and contaminated beaches, but those problems resulted in more than 20,000 closing and swimming advisory days in 2008 alone. Unlucky beachgoers can suffer infections, rashes, stomach flu, hepatitis and worse. Before heading off to the beach, check out the Testing the Waters interactive map to see how safe your favorite beach is. 

The hopeful news is that one of the major causes of beach pollution, stormwater runoff, is something we can help prevent through simple changes around the home. For ways to reduce stormwater runoff, look here, and check out this NRDC slideshow with examples of communities across America cleaning up their water—and saving money—with low-impact development. For more, see what these Smarter Cities are doing to protect water quality: Burnsville, Minnesota; Norwalk, Connecticut; Kansas, City, Missouri; Ann Arbor, MichiganSanta Monica, California; and Denver, Colorado.