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Pier Waters Under Health Advisory

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By Lookout Staff

June 7, 2023 -- Los Angeles County health officials have issued an advisory for the water around the Santa Monica Pier, which exceeds State standards for bacteria.

The water 100 yards north and south of the pier -- especially in the area around the Pico-Kenter storm drain -- poses a danger to swimmers, surfers and those playing in the ocean, LA County health officials said.

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Sites are considered "potentially unsafe" if the concentration of bacteria exceeds the level at which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates 32 out of 1,000 swimmers will get sick from swimming in those waters, according to Environment America.

The health advisories are common for the Pier, which is Los Angeles County's most popular beach destination.

The waters around the massive wooden pier landed on Heal the Bay's infamous Beach Bummer list last year as the fourth most polluted beach in California.

The Pier earned straight Fs on the organization'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.

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 its proximity to the Pico Kentor storm drain, which receives runoff that carries bacteria, from natural factors including bird debris and from large crowds.

Eight other beaches are under LA County's health advisory including Malibu Lagoon at Surfrider Beach, the Santa Monica Canyon storm drain at Will Rogers State Beach and Mother's Beach at Marina del Rey Beach.

Like the Pier, Mother's Beach -- which is enclosed by a marina that allows "little wave action or water circulation" -- landed on last year's Bummer list.

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