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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LA’s Efforts to Transform Water Quality at Three Heal the Bay F-Grade Beaches

Today the local environmental group Heal the Bay issued its annual beach report card in time for the start of the summer beach season, providing beach goers with important water quality information. Without fail, over the last few years, Santa Ynez Beach, Castle Rock Beach and Inner Cabrillo Beach have received poor grades when it comes to their water quality.

That is about to change.

Working with regional partners including the County of Los Angeles, the Cities of El Segundo and Santa Monica and environmental groups such as Heal the Bay, the City of Los Angeles has built various structural best management practices at each of these locations to significantly improve their water quality.

There are currently 23 low-flow diversions, or structures that divert dry-weather polluted urban runoff from storm drains to the sanitary sewer system, dotting the Santa Monica Bay coastline. Using funds from Proposition O, the water quality bond measure passed in 2004, Los Angeles is in the process of upgrading eight of these diversions to handle dry weather flow year round. The upgrade of these low-flow diversions has the added benefit of ensuring the City’s compliance with federal water quality mandates related to dry weather flow. Other locations along Santa Monica Bay, most notably, Castlerock and Santa Ynez Canyon, whose low-flow diversions are owned and operated by the County of Los Angeles, have experienced recent maintenance issues. The City has been working closely with the County to resolve those challenges.

Inner Cabrillo Beach has been a bigger challenge and while the City hasn’t achieved full compliance with water quality mandates for this location yet, it is dedicated to reaching that goal. The City of Los Angeles has spent $20 million over the last seven years in projects ranging from public outreach to repairing sewer lines to the replacement of sand to improve water quality at this popular beach. Currently, the Los Angeles Harbor Department is preparing to construct a bird exclusion structure that will be completed for the 2010 summer season. Ongoing monitoring efforts are planned to determine the success of this latest water quality improvement project.

“We recognize that these three beaches have been problematic in years past but we are committed to working with our community partners to find solutions that will improve the quality of water in our rivers, lakes and beaches,” stated Enrique Zaldivar, Director of the Bureau of Sanitation. “Clean water in Los Angeles is a team effort,” continued Zaldivar.

For more information about the City’s Watershed Protection Program, please visit LAStormwater.org and join us at facebook.com/lastormwaterprogram.

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