(May 22, 2003) -- Hold the wisecracks about LB being "where the sewer meets the sea"...at least in terms of dry weather beach water quality measured in terms of poop and other nasty bacteria.
LB beaches did well -- and some very well -- in Heal the Bay's 13th annual "Beach Report Card" of water quality information, which the organization bases on daily and weekly fecal bacteria pollution levels in the surfzone.
In dry weather, most LB beaches scored A's and B's. Alamitos Bay at 56th Pl (peninsula). scored A+'s.
LB's lowest dry weather grades (B's and C's depending on length of grading period) were at the projection of 3 Pl. (just east of downtown Marina) and at 1st/Bayshore. LB grades during wet weather were listed as "no sample taken or available."
Colorado Lagoon water quality improved dramatically from a year earlier. Colorado Lagoon north (for the periods 4/02-10/02 and 4/02-3/03) had B's. Colorado Lagoon center and south had A's over both time periods.
In the past, LB's branch of the Surfrider Foundation has cautioned that Heal the Bay's Report Card is based on bacterial monitoring results (like fecal matter) and does not include (or claim to include) other environmental toxics such as DDT, lead, arsenic and the like.
Dr. Gordon LaBedz of the LB Surfrider Foundation told us last year:
"The Heal the Bay report is an enormously valuable tool for swimmers and surfers to educate themselves about bacteria pollution at our beaches. The area behind the LB Breakwater should be considered a port rather than a true beach. The "beach" at Long Beach is subject to far more pollutants than just storm drain bacteria from the land. Heal the Bay does not have the resources to monitor the common oil and chemical slicks, the algae blooms and all the various toxins that coat our foul smelling "beaches" in Long Beach. The port and its foul pollutants are not measured by the Heal the Bay report card."
Two Orange County and one nearby L.A. County area were among Heal the Bay's "Beach Bummers" (10 worst CA monitoring locations based on 2002-2003 dry weather water quality). The worst of the worst was OC's Doheny State Beach (12 monitoring locations, Dana Point in OC). Number four (out of 10) was OC's Baby Beach (4 monitoring locations, Dana Point Harbor) and number seven was L.A. County's Cabrillo Beach (Harborside, San Pedro).
Heal the Bay's grades indicate past water quality and are not a warranty of the current safety of those areas surveyed. And Heal the Bay and County health officials recommend that "beach users never swim or surf within 100 yards of any flowing storm drain, or in any coastal water during, and for three days after, a rainstorm. Storm drain runoff can be the greatest source of pollution to local beaches, flowing untreated to the coast and often contaminated with motor oil, animal waste, pesticides, yard waste and trash. After a rain, indicator bacteria counts usually far exceed state health criteria for recreational water use."
To view Heal the Bay's L.A. County grades (scroll down to LB grades), click: Heal the Bay L.A. County 2003 Water Quality Grades
To view an Executive Summary with links to methodology and details: Heal the Bay 2003 "Beach Report Card" Executive Summary.