Water Quality at Beaches Shows Continued Improvement in Long Beach

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Long Beach Light house and harbor

Water quality continues to improve in Long Beach. — photo by Barbara Holbrook

Recreational water quality in Long Beach continued its long-term steady improvement in 2012, based on the water quality grades released today by Heal the Bay in its 2013 Annual Beach Report Card.

“Long Beach has seen drastic improvement in beach water quality over the past six years,” said Mayor Bob Foster. “Over the long run we continue to make steady improvements and we are seeing some tremendous results.”

Six 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 AB 411, after the Assembly Bill that mandates water quality testing. That year, all testing sites at Colorado Lagoon received “F” grades.

The Mayor’s Water Quality Task Force pulled together departments and regional environmental groups to assess the science and develop technical programs to improve beach water quality. That focus has led to massive investments in infrastructure and unprecedented collaboration with neighboring cities. 

In 2012, 10 of the 13 beaches sampled received “A” or “B” grades (77 percent), which is 15 percent higher than the average water quality over the past five years. The Colorado Lagoon, after completion of an $8.5 million restoration project last summer, received “A+” grades every month since the project was finished in August 2012.

“The Colorado Lagoon retains its position as a shining star for water quality improvement, and we are pleased with the results of all our efforts to clean up the Lagoon,” said Councilmember Gary DeLong.

Another success story in this year’s report was the dramatic improvement of water quality in the winter months. This is usually the most difficult time to maintain good water quality due to winter storms. In Long Beach, nine water quality testing locations yielded “A” grades, and six sites received “A+” grades during the winter. Heal the Bay singled out the City’s water quality accomplishments, stating: “Winter dry weath­er grades were remarkable with 100 percent of locations earning ’A’ grades – 53 percent higher than Long Beach’s five-year average.”

The City’s water quality in wet weather also showed dramatic improvement. Where historically Long Beach received “F” grades during wet weather testing periods, mostly as a result of the runoff from the Los Angeles River, this year 46 percent of beaches received “A” and “B” grades.

“Long Beach has invested an incredible amount of time and money improving water quality,” said Councilmember Suja Lowenthal. “We have urged everyone in the Los Angeles River watershed to remember that they must also be the solution to improved water quality. Those efforts have been arduous, but we are starting to see the fruits of our labor.”

Everyone can help clean up our City’s beaches by reducing runoff, and remembering to pick up trash, whether near the ocean or miles away from the coastline. For information on beach clean-up events, and to learn how you can keep Long Beach beaches clean, please visit the City’s webpage for a Litter-Free Long Beach: www.litterfreelb.org, or for information on how to report illegal stormwater dumping, visit the City’s stormwater website at www.longbeach.gov/pw/stormwater_management/570_dump.asp

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