The 11th annual Heal The Bay Report Card is now out and for local beaches, the news is both good and bad.The bad news is that the beaches around Santa Monica Municipal Pier and Surfrider Beach in Malibu are among the Report Card’s “Top 10 Beach Bummers,” a list of beaches that received an overall “F” grade in year-round dry weather during the 2008-2009 testing period. Santa Monica Municipal Pier was at five on the list and Surfrider at eight.The good news is that several projects are underway to help those grades improve in the future.At Heal The Bay’s press conference on the Pier May 20, the report card was summarized and commented on by Dr. Mitzy Taggart, senior staff scientist for Heal The Bay.“We issue this card every year right at the start of the summer season to help people protect their health,” said Dr. Taggart. She explained that Heal The Bay now has an “honor roll” of beaches that consistently maintained a grade of “A Plus.” Honor roll beaches in the area include Zuma Beach at Zuma Creek mouth, and Will Rogers State Beach.There are also stretches of beach, such as the area from Venice Pier to Pico Boulevard, that have better water quality and are safer for family swimming.Dr. Taggart noted that budget cuts have had an impact on testing in many parts of California, but fortunately L.A. County and the City of Santa Monica have been able to continue their testing. Dr. Aliza Lifshitz, noted author, doctor, and columnist, talked about the Beach Report Card’s value for helping families protect their health. She advised swimmers to stay away from storm drain areas, and to avoid swimming in the ocean for at least three days after a rain storm. “It takes only one exposure to pollutants to make a person sick.”City Council member Bobby Shriver remarked that although it is embarrassing to have Santa Monica Pier beach rated at number five on the “Bummer” list, “Last year this was the second most polluted beach. Next year, we hope it will be on the honor roll.”He announced that the City is working on two projects funded by Measure V (The Clean Beaches and Ocean ballot measure that passed in 2006). The one that has just become operative is the Pier Storm Drain Improvement Project, a storm drain under the Pier. A pump will divert dry weather urban runoff from running onto the beach.Shriver introduced Lee Swain, Director of Public Works for the City, who, he noted, completed the storm drain project “four months ahead of schedule.” Swain also described the City’s other water cleanup project, the Bicknell Avenue “Street Green Project,” which will use a variety of storm water management practices to collect and store urban runoff during storms and allow it to return to the groundwater table, instead of entering the storm drain system to Santa Monica Bay.The Heal The Bay Report Card for 2008-09 is available online at healthebay.org.
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