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Santa Monica Pier Only Beach Area Left Under County Advisory
By Jorge Casuso
August 10, 2021 -- The area around the Santa Monica pier remained the last beach under a health advisory for high levels of bacteria updated by Los Angeles County Health officials on Tuesday.
The water 100 yards north and south of the pier -- especially the area around the Pico-Kenter storm drain -- continues to pose a danger to swimmers, surfers and those playing in the ocean, health officials said.
It appears the high bacteria levels are not due to the massive sewage spill one month ago at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in Playa del Rey that sent 17 million gallons of raw sewage into Santa Monica Bay.
When alerts were issued for the pier area on July 29, County health officials said the high levels of bacteria were “very likely” the result of day-to-day fluctuations, with “no reason to suspect” the sewage discharge was responsible, according to the warning.
Sites are considered "potentially unsafe if bacteria levels exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s most protective 'Beach Action Value' threshold," according to Environment America, a network of 29 state environmental groups.
That is the level at which the agency estimates 32 out of 1,000 swimmers will get sick from swimming in those waters, according to the group.
Heal the Bay's 2020-21 Beach Report Card, which was issued in late June, gave the water around the Pier a D grade during dry summer weather, which covers the periodd from April to October 2020, barely avoiding the infamous Beach Bummers list.
The Pier received an F during dry winter weather, from November 2020 to March 2021, and also received an F during wet weather, when rain flushes contaminants and pollution, including bacteria, from streets directly into the ocean.
The City has taken steps to reduce bacteria levels near the Pier, including the Clean Beaches Initiative project, said Conatance Farrell, the City's public information officer.
Installed underneath Lot 1 North, the 1.6 million gallon tank reclaims the water runoff from downtown and treats it for non-potable uses, Farrell said.
"This has improved the water quality at the Pier," she said. adding that "there are natural factors of a Pier, including bird debris, that does impact water quality levels.
"We do make efforts to mitigate these factors, including netting," Farrell said.
The City is "constantly monitoring" the water quality levels shared by Los Angeles County, she said.
Recorded information on beach conditions is available 24 hours a day on the county’s beach closure hotline: 1-800-525-5662.
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