Heal the Bay’s 2007 End of Summer Beach Report Card gave 93 percent of Santa Monica Bay’s beaches a grade of A or B for ocean water quality this year, an 18 percent increase over last year.
The Report Card is developed by monitoring ocean bacteria levels by local health agencies and dischargers (facilities such as the Hyperion Plant that treat wastewater and release it into the ocean) from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The A-F grading scale is based on the risk ocean bacteria poses to swimmers and others.
Officials at Heal the Bay credit this past year’s record drought for the improvement because it reduced the amount of polluted urban run-off entering the bay from storm drains. Another contributing factor was the Clean Beach Initiative projects.
James Alamillo, Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card Manager, explained to the Mirror that low flow storm drain diversions that were re-engineered to work year-round -– such as the diversions at Temescal Canyon, Santa Monica Canyon, Pico-Kenter, and Ashland, Rose and Brooks Avenues – all helped with the improvement of the Bay’s beach water. These diversions help ensure that during dry periods the water quality remains excellent, and also improves water quality after a light rain by diverting the run-off away from the beaches.
Despite the good news, according to Alamillo, Santa Monica Pier ocean water still receives poor grades on a regular basis, even after several interventions. These interventions include a diversion of urban run-off from the Pier drain to the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Facility, “a net under the Pier to keep birds from roosting there, the placing of fish grinders at fish cleaning sites for fishermen, re-grading of the Pier sand, and regular maintenance of sewage pipes from Pier businesses.” The next step to deal with the problem will be to look at the sand under the Pier to see if the pollution from it is entering the Pier storm drain.
Alamillo also emphasized, “You don’t need to be in front of a computer anymore” to obtain Heal the Bay beach water quality grade information due to a new text message service now available for cell phones or other mobile devices. For information, go to the Beach Report Card website at healthebay.org/brc/sms and find the keyword name assigned to a beach, then text message the beach’s name to the number 23907 to receive the current beach’s grade.
Heal the Bay grades 494 beaches statewide. As in years past, Los Angeles County had the lowest grades in the state this summer, with 17 percent of its beaches receiving F’s.