|(May 24, 2012) -- Heal the Bay's Annual Beach Report Card -- based on levels of organic pollution (i.e. bacterial material including fecal matter in the water), not levels of inorganic (chemical and industrial) toxic pollutants (anywhere in CA) -- says Long Beach’s water quality overall "improved
drastically (93% A and B grades) during summer dry weather this past year" (with 73% A's and B's during winter dry weather) but receives straight F's during wet weather (which it attributes to the L.A. river as major pollution source).
Among LB's significant improvements the group specifically notes the removal of Colorado Lagoon from its annual list of "beach bummers."
Long Beach City Hall swiftly issued a release (full text below) citing the improvements, quoting Mayor Foster and LB's two beach area Councilmembers, Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal and 3rd district Councilmember Gary DeLong.
Left column is summer-dry (April-Oct). Middle column is winter-dry (Nov-Mar). Right column is wet weather (year round):
Heal the Bay's report cautions: "...In 2010, the Regional Board approved the Los Angeles River Bacteria TMDL [Total Maximum Daily Load water discharge levels] which allows 25 years to comply with water quality standards in both dry and wet weather -- far too long for Long Beach residents and visitors to wait for clean water..."
Heal the Bay photo
Heal the Bay also explicitly recommends incorporating TMDL’s into all Storm Water Permits. "Incorporating numeric TMDL waste load allocations (WLAs) and associated compliance milestones and deadlines into all storm water permits (i.e. municipal, industrial, construction, general) is essential to ensure that TMDLs are easily enforceable." The group cites an upcoming September 2012 vote by the Los Angeles Regional Board on whether to include all L.A. County issued "Total Maximum Daily Load" (TMDL's) into the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit. "It is critical that the TMDLs are immediately placed in the MS4 and compliance deadlines are enforced."
Heal the Bay photo
Heal the Bay's report has this to say about Long Beach water quality:
[Heal the Bay text] In 2010-2011, Long Beach’s Colorado Lagoon
earned a spot on the Beach Bummer list due to
consistently poor water quality. On March 16,
2010 the State Board allocated $1,799,803 towards
the Colorado Lagoon Restoration Project.
On April 5, 2011, due to widespread sediment
contamination, the State Board approved
the city’s request for an additional $3.3 million
from the Cleanup and Abatement Account. The
primary goals of the project are to dredge and
remove sediment and revegetate these portions
of the lagoon with native plants. Dredging
continues to be ongoing at this point.
Overall, Long Beach’s water quality improved
drastically (93% A and B grades) during summer
dry weather this past year. Last year, only 27%
of beaches received an A or B grade during that
monitoring period. During winter dry weather
73% of beaches received A or B grades – 30%
better than the five-year average of 43%...
Long Beach has made significant efforts to locate
pollution sources and improve water quality.
Extensive studies throughout the city have
demonstrated that the Los Angeles River, an
enormous pollution source
because of its 100-plus
square mile drainage, is the
predominant source of fecal
bacteria to Long Beach waters.
Every monitoring location
in Long Beach scored an F grade during wet
weather this year and last year. This is the third
year Long Beach continued to monitor 10 fewer
sites due to cost cutting measures.
While the Los Angeles River will continue to be
the major source of contamination for Long
Beach beaches, the city’s investigations have resulted
in the discovery and repair of leaking or
disconnected sewage pump lines and improperly
working storm drain diversions. The city has
also implemented an innovative pilot technology
to disinfect runoff in the storm drains...
...In 2010, the Regional Board approved the Los
Angeles River Bacteria TMDL, which allows 25
years to comply with water quality standards in
both dry and wet weather– far too long for Long
Beach residents and visitors to wait for clean
Los Angeles River and Santa Clara River TMDLs
The Regional Board adopted two additional bacteria TMDLs in June 2010: the Santa Clara River Bacteria
TMDL and the Los Angeles River Bacteria TMDL. Unfortunately, they both have very lengthy
compliance timelines. The Santa Clara River Bacteria TMDL allows 17 years for final compliance. The
Los Angeles River Bacteria TMDL splits up compliance timelines by river segments. No significant action
is required for the first four years, and the final segments have 25 years to meet pollution limits for
Los Angeles River after rain storm and normal winter-dry conditions
both dry and wet weather, the longest ever in the region. As a result, Heal the Bay is concerned that
Long Beach beaches will remain frequently unsafe for the next two decades because the Los Angeles
River has been identified as a main source of their beach pollution.
Long Beach TMDL
On March 26, 2012, the USEPA and the Los Angeles Regional Board (“Regional Board established a
Bacteria TMDL for Long Beach city beaches and the Los Angeles River Estuary. This is a great step towards
restoring the health of Long Beach’s many chronically polluted beaches. This will also result in
protecting the health of thousands of beachgoers who visit Long Beach beaches every year. However,
Heal the Bay does not agree that final compliance deadlines should be consistent with lower reaches
of the Los Angeles River Bacteria TMDL.
Long Beach beaches continue to be polluted by the Los Angeles River, a major source of beach water
quality contamination. The City of Long Beach continues to work towards improving beach water
quality, and has discovered and repaired several leaking or disconnected sewage pump lines and
improperly working storm drain diversions. The city has also implemented an innovative pilot technology
to disinfect runoff in the storm drains. Long Beach’s water quality will continue to be directly
tied to rainfall amounts and runoff volumes from the Los Angeles River, however we are encouraged
that a bacteria TMDL is finally in place, and look forward to seeing continued improvements in
Long Beach’s beach water quality...
Among the recommendations in Heal the Bay's report:
4. Incorporate TMDL’s into all Storm Water Permits
Incorporating numeric TMDL waste load allocations
(WLAs) and associated compliance milestones and
deadlines into all storm water permits (i.e. municipal,
industrial, construction, general) is essential to ensure
that TMDLs are easily enforceable.
In September, the
Los Angeles Regional Board will vote on whether to
include all Los Angeles County issued TMDLs into the
Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit.
The Santa Monica Bay Beaches Bacteria TMDLs and
Marina del Rey Bacteria TMDL had been included in the MS4. However, these were later removed from
the permit due to an attorney error. It has been nearly a decade since these TMDLs were adopted,
and dry weather compliance deadlines have passed. Thus, it is critical that the TMDLs are immediately
placed in the MS4 and compliance deadlines are enforced.
Heal the Bay will be running a campaign
this summer leading up to the September hearing that advocates strict compliance deadlines and
numerical TMDLs for storm water dischargers. In addition other statewide storm water permits will
be adopted later this year (Caltrans, Phase II MS4, and Industrial). Heal the Bay is advocating for TMDL
WLAs and compliance deadlines to be included in all of these permits as well.
Heal the Bay's full report can be viewed here.
In response to Heal the Bay's report, the City of Long Beach issued the following release:
Recreational water quality in Long Beach continues to improve, as grades for city beaches "improved drastically" in the Heal the Bay 2012 Annual Beach Report Card.
"I’m proud to see our efforts to clean our coastal waters are paying off," said Mayor Bob Foster. "We created partnerships and implemented innovative technologies to tackle one of Southern California's biggest environmental challenges. We're not done yet, but our efforts have yielded some of our best scores ever -- Long Beach should be proud of that."
In 2011, 93 percent of the City’s beaches, earned "A" and "B" grades during the state-mandated testing period from April through October 2011. This was a significant improvement from last year where 27% of beaches receives As and Bs. Winter dry weather water quality also showed significant improvement this year, with 73% of Long Beach beaches receiving A or B grades, or 30 percentage points better than the five-year average of 43%.
"We’ve worked very hard to clean up the water at our beaches, and our improved water quality is leading to a healthier community and, thanks to more visitors, a healthier economy," said Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal, who represents the 2nd District.
The Heal the Bay Beach Report Card documents continued improvements in Long Beach water quality, and compliments the City on its continued perseverance and commitment to improving water quality.
"Overall, Long Beach’s water quality improved drastically (93% A and B grades) during summer dry weather this past year," according to the Heal the Bay report, which went on to state: "Long Beach has made significant efforts to locate pollution sources and improve water quality."
Five years ago, the 2007 Annual Report Card gave Long Beach just 12 percent A and B grades during the state-mandated testing period known as AB411, after the Assembly Bill that mandates water quality testing. That year, all testing sites at Colorado Lagoon received "F" grades.
The most significant improvement in water quality was realized at Colorado Lagoon, which received one A and one B, and due to the dramatic improvement in water quality has been removed from the Heal the Bay’s list of "Beach Bummers." Due to the City's continued efforts with all its partners, the Colorado Lagoon has experienced a transformational improvement in water quality.
"Cleaning up our waters has truly been a team effort, with excellent results," said Councilmember Gary DeLong, who represents the 3rd District. "I want to thank Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe and the Friends of Colorado Lagoon for all the work they’ve done to partner with the City in this endeavor. I’d also like to thank our State and Federal partners for all their support and assistance."
Last year the City completed significant storm drain improvements at Colorado Lagoon, including the construction of a low-flow diversion system that redirects urban runoff into the sanitary sewer system and trash traps at major storm drains. The City also cleaned accumulated sediment from the underground culvert that connects the lagoon to Marine Stadium, and constructed a vegetated bioswale to help naturally filter run-off.
Another benefit of these projects was the dramatic reduction in litter at Colorado Lagoon. Average counts of litter and debris decreased by 86 percent at the culvert trash rack and nearly 97 percent along the south shoreline.
Currently, the City is removing contaminated sediment from Colorado Lagoon, which will help to further improve water quality and restore the health of this critical wetland habitat and popular swimming beach. The removal of contaminated sediment is expected to be completed by July 2012.
The City of Long Beach has received approximately $16 million in grants to improve water quality at the Colorado Lagoon
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