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Santa Monica Pier Remains on Heal the Bay’s Beach Bummer List


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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

June 16, 2017 -- The good news is that the nonprofit environmental watchdog Heal the Bay issued a higher grade this year for the quality of the water around Santa Monica Pier in its annual report released Thursday on the condition of the California coast.

The bad news is that the upgrade is from an F to a D, and the Pier continues for the fourth consecutive year to have a place on Heal the Bay’s undesired Beach Bummer list, which features the 10 worst offenders in California.

The D grade is for the water quality during dry summer weather from April to October. The Pier received an F for wet weather and dry winter conditions.

“Despite many projects to improve beach water quality, the Santa Monica Pier continues to be a mainstay on the Beach Bummer list,” Heal the Bay’s report says.

“Moist conditions under the Pier, flocks of birds and storm drain runoff are the likely culprits.”

The Pier is ranked as the sixth-worst offender on the Beach Bummer list. It was ranked No. 5 last year. Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey (No. 9) is the only other Los Angeles County spot on the list.

Clam Beach County Park in McKinleyville, an unincorporated area in Humboldt County, is ranked first on the list.

The Pier has not always been a water quality failure. It earned A grades for dry summer weather in 2011 and 2012.

This was attributed to the City’s urban runoff treatment program implemented in 2009 and the installation of netting in 2010 to prevent birds from nesting underneath the Pier. Keeping that up has been challenging.

"It's difficult to put up and maintain the netting," Dean Kubani, the director of the City's Office of Sustainability and the Environment, told the Lookout last year. "The sun doesn't go down there, so it can't kill the bacteria like it does in other parts of the beach."

There could be reason to be hopeful. Heal the Bay looks to the City’s plan to start construction soon on a large underground stormwater storage tank expected to capture wet weather runoff that drains to the Pier storm drain.

“The stored runoff will supply water to the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURRF) during dry weather, which should greatly reduce the amount of stormwater that enters Santa Monica Bay from City streets and therefore improve water quality at the Pier,” Heal the Bay says.

The five other Santa Monica locations monitored by Heal the Bay -- the drains at Montana Avenue, Wilshire Boulevard, Pico/Kentor, Ashland Avenue and in front of the restrooms at Strand Street -- received an A or A+ for dry summer weather.

For dry winter weather, they all received an A, except for Montana Avenue. It earned a B. All of them received an F for wet weather.


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