Heal the Bay Beach Report Shows Long Beach Recreational Water Quality Continues to Improve

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water quality in Long Beach continues to improve

Photo by John Williams

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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