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By Lookout Staff
November 3, 2022 -- More than 80 beaches -- from San Pedro to Malibu -- joined the Santa Monica Pier on LA County's Health advisory list after a major rainstorm drove bacteria levels above State standards.
The advisory -- which warns bathers, swimmers and surfers to stay out of the water -- will be in place until Saturday morning, although it could be extended for more polluted beaches like the Pier.
The bacteria includes contaminants, pesticides and litter driven through storm drains by a rainstorm that swept through the region on Wednesday.
The high levels of bacteria in the ocean can cause a variety of illnesses, including gastroenteritis from swallowing polluted water, as well as ear, eye, throat and skin infections, according to County health officials.
While bacterial levels can remain high for at least 72 hours, the problem could persist in the waters around the Pier, the County's most crowded and contaminated beach.
The Pier earned straight Fs on Heal the Bay's 2021-22 Beach Report Card, indicating the water has high levels of bacteria all year ("Santa Monica Pier One of California's Most Polluted Beaches," June 22, 2022).
The Pier flunked during summer dry weather (from April to October), winter dry weather (from November to March) and during wet weather year round.
Besides the Pier, the only other Los Angeles County beach on this year's Bummer list was Mothers' Beach in Marina del Rey, which is enclosed by a marina that allows "little wave action or water circulation."
Heal the Bay's grades are based on "concentrations of fecal indicator bacteria measured at ocean beaches" that "indicate the presence of pathogen-containing fecal matter."
The water quality near the pier suffers from chronic levels of bacteria due to its proximity to the Pico Kentor storm drain, large crowds and fecal debris from birds that flock there.
Conditions are expected to improve with the construction of the $96 million Sustainable Water Infrastructure Project (SWIP), a stormwater harvesting tank that will divert stormwater away "for treatment and beneficial reuse," City officials have said.
The City already has the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURRF) that diverts the Pier storm drain to the Clean Beaches Initiative cistern and separates trash at five storm drain outfalls.
For information on the latest beach conditions call LA County's beach closure hotline at 1-800-525-5662 to get recorded information or visit their website.
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