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Pier Waters Under Health Advisory As Large Crowds Expected

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By Lookout Staff

June 30, 2023 -- The large crowds expected to flock to Santa Monica Beach to escape a heat wave over the Independence Day weekend should avoid wading into the waters near the Pier.

LA County Health officials on Friday once again issued a health advisory for the waters 100 yards north and south of the historic wooden structure -- which is California's most polluted beach.

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High levels of bacteria, especially in the area around the Pico-Kenter storm drain, pose a danger to swimmers, surfers and those playing in the ocean, health officials said.

The health advisories are common for the Pier, which landed on Heal the Bay's notorious Beach Bummer list for the second year in a row earlier this month ("Santa Monica Pier Is California's Most Polluted Beach," June 15, 2023).

The stretch of beach earned F grades during dry summer weather, dry winter weather and wet weather on the environmental group's annual report card, which gauges bacterial levels in more than 700 beaches from Washington to Tijuana.

The Pier's failing grades are primarily due to trash from visitors who flock to the County's most popular beach and to bird feces, which the City has been trying to capture with deteriorating netting it is in the process of replacing.

After a record cool streak that lasted for two months, a heat wave will grip the L.A. basin, sending temperatures into the low 90s from Saturday through Monday.

Temperatures will soar even higher in the San Fernando Valley and the mountains, reaching between 100 and 110 degrees.

Santa Monica Beach in the 1920s
Santa Monica Beach at Strand Street in the 1920s (Courtesy Santa Monica Image Archives)

Those are the sort of temperatures that have traditionally sent massive crowds rushing to Santa Monica Beach and especially to the area around the Pier.

While the Pier is under health advisory, those who can't resist the water have a number of Santa Monica beaches that earned top grades during summer dry weather.

The beaches at Montana Avenue and at Strand Street received A+ grades in Heal the Bay's report card during summer dry weather, while Ocean Park Beach at the Ashland Avenue and the beach at Wilshire Boulevard received A grades.

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."

Organizations such as Heal the Bay and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency "are most concerned about fecal pollution" because it "poses an acute health risk, meaning one exposure can make someone sick," Heal the Bay officials said.

Other LA County beaches under a health advisory on Friday were the Malibu Lagoon at Surfrider Beach and Marina del Rey Mother's Beach, which was one of the most polluted beaches in the state.

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