Monica Beach Among Dirtiest in State, Report Finds
By Lookout Staff
July 30 – The beach around the Santa Monica Pier
remains one of the dirtiest in the state, logging one of the highest
levels of fecal bacteria in ocean water, according to a Natural
Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report released Tuesday.
The leading culprit are birds that drop fecal matter into the water, along
with human feces swept in through storm drains, according to NRDC and City officials.
The beach around the pier has also repeatedly received failing grades from
Heal the Bay for its dirty stormwater runoff, which makes it one of the most
polluted beaches on the California coast.
According to the NRDC report, Los Angeles County was home to the dirtiest beaches
in the state for the fifth straight year, with Avalon on Santa Catalina Island
and Santa Monica once again near the top of the list of repeat offenders.
Other Southland beaches listed among the dirtiest were Doheny State Beach south
of Dana Point Harbor, Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro and Rincon Beach Creek mouth
in Ventura County.
Santa Monica Beach, however, posted the greatest percentage of tests that found
unacceptable levels of fecal bacteria on the California mainland, according
to the report.
Tainted water can cause gastroenteritis, ear infections, skin rashes or other
symptoms in those who go into the water, experts said.
The report is based on samples taken from nearly three-quarters of the state’s
public beaches between April and October 2007. Samples were taken at least once
a week mostly from ankle-deep water near storm drains or other contamination
Not all the news was bad. According to the report, the unhealthful levels of
enterococcus, total coliform and fecal coliform bacteria – which is found
in human and animal waste – dropped from 12 percent in 2006 to 7 percent
Los Angeles County also saw the number of days beaches were closed or posted
with advisories drop by 18 percent from 2006. But the cleaner water likely was
due to much drier weather last year, NRDC officials said.
Santa Monica’s poor grades have long been the result of a leaky stormdrain
line that doesn’t reach the surf, causing the polluted water to pond underneath
The City has been taking measures to address the problem, including filling
the pond with sand and putting in place a diversion project to funnel dry-weather
runoff into the sewer
The City also is using money from Measure V, a parcel tax approved by voters
in November 2006 that should funnel $2.3 million a year for stormwater projects.
The money is helping to fund a watershed management plan that makes improving
the pier storm drain a key priority.
Earlier this year, the City Council approved $250,000 to begin upgrading the