Santa Monica Lookout
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Santa Monica Beaches Get High Marks  


By Lookout Staff

May 25, 2012 -- No need to worry if you plan to swim and surf at Santa Monica beaches this summer, with all seven of the city's coastal testing sites earning an A or A+ during dry weather, according to Heal The Bay's Annual Beach report card.

In fact, only the Pico/Kenter storm drain earned failing grade, and it did so during wet weather, when rains wash debris from city streets through the storm drains and into the bay.

The area around the Santa Monica Pier earned an A for the second year in a row, after being named the fifth most-polluted beach in the California in 2010 and being a regular on the organization's “Beach Bummer” list.

"This is a huge accomplishment for the City of Santa Monica, which has dedicated many years and millions of dollars towards improving water quality at and around the pier," Heal the Bay officials wrote in the report. "We hope this encouraging trend continues."

Heal the Bay officials attribute the dramatic improvement in water quality to the Pier Storm Drain Improvement project funded under Measure V, which was approved by local voters in 2006.

The project, completed in 2009, replaced an old storm drain under the pier that had allowed polluted runoff to pond. It also included the construction of a pump to divert dry weather runoff to the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Reuse Facility (SMRF) for treatment.

The City also finished installing netting in early 2010 that prevents birds from nesting underneath the pier and adding fecal bacteria to the water, according to Heal the Bay's report. The City also hired researchers from UCLA to complete a thorough source tracking study "to identify any remaining sources of fecal bacteria at the beach."

Santa Monica's grades reflected the high marks earned by Los Angeles County Beaches during dry weather, the report found.

In LA County, 82 percent of the 86 monitoring stations earned an A or B during dry summer weather, up from an average of 75 percent over the five previous years, and 81 percent received A or B grades during dry winter weather, up from 68 percent.

"This year, there were some stretches of very good to excellent summer water quality including all of Santa Monica Beach locations from Castle Rock Beach to Marina del Rey," Heal the bay officials said.

In Santa Monica Bay, 86 percent of the beaches -- from Leo Carrillo to Palos Verdes -- earned A or B grades during dry summer weather, slipping slightly from 91 percent last year and from and average of 89 percent over the previous five years.

Wet weather water quality in Los Angeles County "showed poor results overall" with only 29 of 86, or 34 percent, receiving A or B grades, up slightly from 29 percent last year.

Water quality should continue to improve. This year, the City of Los Angeles completed the last phase of the more than $40 million year-round dry weather runoff diversion project that diverts runoff from eight storm drains into the Coastal Interceptor Sewer that flows to the Hyperion Treatment Plant.

This is the first large scale, highly engineered year-round runoff diversion project completed in California," Heal the bay officials said.


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