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Water Near Santa Monica Pier Under Health Advisory


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By Lookout Staff

May 6, 2024 -- Due to high levels of bacteria, visitors to Santa Monica Beach should continue to avoid swimming, surfing and playing in the water near the Pier, County Health officials warn.

The Public Health advisory issued Saturday covers the area extending 100 yards on either side of the Pier as well as a similar stretch just south around the Pico-Kenter storm drain, County Health officials said.

Advisories also are in place for Santa Monica Canyon Creek at Will Rogers State Beach, Malibu Lagoon at Surfrider Beach, the Malibu Pier and Mother's Beach in Marina del Rey.

Sites are considered potentially unsafe if the concentration of bacteria exceeds the level at which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates 32 out of 1,000 swimmers will get sick from the water.

The health advisories are common for the Pier, which Heal the Bay's 2022-23 Beach Report Card named California's most polluted beach ("Santa Monica Pier Is California's Most Polluted Beach," June 15, 2023).

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 debris from large crowds, fecal matter from birds and its proximity to the Pico Kentor storm drain, which receives runoff that carries bacteria.

The high levels of bacteria persist despite more than $100 million spent by the City over the last five years to protect Santa Monica Bay and improve beach water quality.

City officials note that the Pier water represents only 5 percent of Santa Monica beach, which consistently receives high grades for water quality ("Water Quality Under Pier Gives Santa Monica Beaches a Bum Rap, City Officials Say," August 21, 2023).

The water at the four area beaches under the current Public Health advisory are regularly listed as having levels of bacteria that exceed state standards.

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

For updated information on the status of beach water quality call Public Health's 24-hour hotline at 1-800-525-5662. To view the map of impacted locations and for more information, visit

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