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L.A. River Causes Bad Grades Along Coast

Published 5/22/2009 on Grunion Gazette Community News

 Heal The Bay’s Report Card said what many downtown residents could have told you for years — the pollution coming down the Los Angeles River is a big problem.

Water at every beach from the mouth of the Los Angeles River to the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier also got no better than a “C” and most failed in the latest report card from Heal The Bay, released last week.

    The good news out of that report is that much of Long Beach — east of the Belmont Pier facing the ocean and throughout Alamitos Bay — received very good grades.

    Dealing with the runoff from the Los Angeles River has been a complex problem facing Long Beach for years. A regional solution is needed, according in the report.

    “Extensive studies throughout the city have demonstrated that the Los Angeles River, an enormous pollution source because of its 1,000-plus square mile drainage, was the predominant source of fecal bacteria to Long Beach water,” the report states.

    The report had some kind words for Long Beach.

    “It should be noted that even though Long Beach’s water quality overall is poor, this year did mark the best Long Beach water quality in the past 3 years,” the report said. “Last year, the city of Long Beach invested over $300,000 towards an effort to determine sources of its ocean water bacterial contamination. While the Los Angeles River will continue to be the major source of contamination for Long Beach beaches, the city’s investigations have resulted in the discovery and repair of leaking or disconnected sewage pump lines and improperly working storm drain diversions.”

    From the east side of the Belmont Pier through the end of the Peninsula, the grades were all “As.” Same with Alamitos Bay, where every grade was an “A” save for the Second Street Bridge at Bay Shore Avenue, and on the north end of Mother’s Beach. Both of those received “C” grades due to sewage leaks in the area.

    Another area of the city that received failing grades in the report is Colorado Lagoon, which long has had water quality issues as the lagoon is now stagnant and has little tidal flow with the ocean. Plans to better connect Colorado Lagoon with Marine Stadium are in the works (although a debate of the best way to do that goes on). Those plans could become a reality in the coming years.

    One of the issues brought up in the report is that due to the current California budget crisis, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used his line-item veto to cut nearly $1 million in from the beach water quality monitoring programs that filter down to Long Beach (which does its own testing). That problem is likely to get worse in the coming years, Heal the Bay officials said.

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