Long Beach Beaches Earn High Marks From Heal the Bay

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Photo by Ruth L

On Tuesday, Heal the Bay released its report of beach water quality, with Long Beach receiving excellent marks for its beach water quality. Water quality in Long Beach showed “dramatic improvement,” with all beaches receiving an “A” grade except for one “B” at Mother’s Beach from the Heal the Bay 2011 End of Summer Beach Report Card. This is the third summer in a row Long Beach has shown improved water quality.

“By aggressively tackling our coastal water issues head on, we’re making a difference,” said Mayor Bob Foster. “We still have work to do, but our water quality is improving, thanks to infrastructure improvements, grant funding, regional partnerships, technology and other innovative solutions.”

As Heal the Bay noted, “The City of Long Beach has remained dedicated to improving beach water quality through the implementation of several mitigation projects.” The Report Card singled out recently completed improvements at Colorado Lagoon, including:

  • Removing contaminated sediment;
  • Cleaning an underground culvert to improve water circulation with Alamitos Bay;
  • Installing bioswales to naturally filter out stormwater contaminants; and
  • Install trash traps and a low-flow diversion system to divert some of the most heavily contaminated stormwater into the sewage system.

“Our determination to improve water quality is producing results, as well as excellent marks from Heal the Bay,” said Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal, who represents the 2nd Council District. “Our water quality grades improved by an impressive 27 percent over last summer, and even more over summer 2009.”

“Alamitos Bay and Colorado Lagoon have shown dramatic improvement over the past several years, thanks to continued investments at the Federal, State and local levels,” said Councilmember Gary DeLong, who represents the 3rd District. “With additional projects on the way, we’re hoping to see continued improvements in our water quality.”

As Heal the Bay noted, “In general, beach water quality at the main beaches in Long Beach tends to be impacted by the Los Angeles River. This is supported by an extensive source tracking study which showed the vast majority of bacterial contamination at Long Beach beaches was a result of pollution from the Los Angeles River.” Other factors affecting recreational water quality include the amount of rainfall, and the frequency and severity of sewage spills from upstream communities.

Here are some additional examples of how water quality is improving in Long Beach:

  • Long Beach has been proactive in the implementation of best management practices to reduce bacteria levels in recreational waters.
  • Long Beach and 15 upriver cities are installing thousands of trash-capturing devices in regional storm drains that flow to the Los Angeles River and then the Long Beach coastline. This project, nearly complete, will prevent hundreds of tons of trash from entering the storm drains with urban runoff.
  • The City signed an historic agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers in 2010 to conduct the East San Pedro Bay Ecosystem Restoration Study to study potential changes to the Long Beach Breakwater, Los Angeles River, and the Bay to improve water quality, restore the ecosystem, and create recreational opportunities.

The Los Angeles County Termino Avenue Storm Drain Project, which is nearly complete, includes multiple water quality protection attributes:

  1. Oil and grease absorbent sponges;
  2. Retractable catch basin screens to keep trash from entering the storm drain system; and
  3. A low-flow diversion system to improve the water quality of storm runoff.

The City of Long Beach continues to test our recreational waters weekly throughout the year. These results are available online at www.longbeach.gov/health/eh/water/water_samples.asp and on our 24 hour recorded water information line, 562.570.4199.

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