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Health Officials Lift Advisory for Water Around Pier

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Jorge Casuso

August 17, 2021 -- County officials removed a health advisory for the area around the Santa Monica Pier on Friday, as polluted wastewater discharged from the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant fell to a two-week low.

The Pier area remained the last beach under a health advisory for high levels of bacteria before health officials on Friday added Mother's Beach in Marina Del Rey and Avalon Beach at Catalina Island.

Despite lifting the warning, officials discourage wading into waters near discharging storm drains, such as the Pico-Kenter storm drain near the pier.

"Public health continues to caution people visiting these beaches to be careful of swimming, surfing, and playing in ocean waters around discharging storm drains, creeks and rivers,' the advisory said.

Health officials have said the high bacteria levels that resulted in the health advisories do not appear to stem from the massive spill on July 11 and 12 at the Hyperion Plant in Playa del Rey.

The flooded plant sent 17 million gallons of raw sewage into Santa Monica Bay and continues spilling partially treated wastewater into the ocean.

Health officials instead have said the high levels of bacteria are “very likely” the result of day-to-day fluctuations.

The water around the Pier received a a D grade from Heal the Bay during dry summer weather, which covers the period from April to October 2020, barely avoiding the infamous Beach Bummers list.

The advisory for the pier area was lifted the day data from the City of Los Angeles, which operate the plant, show the amount of polluted discharge dropped to a two-week low, before rising again over the weekend.

The plant is expected to continue to release partially treated wastewater into Santa Monica Bay until normal operations are restored, City of LA sanitation officials said.

Since last month's accident reduced the plant's processing capacity, sludge from sewage accumulated at the bottom of the treatment tanks has accumulated, Hyperion plant manager Timeyin Dafeta told the Press Telegram on Friday.

“There’s clean water coming in, but at the bottom there’s still this sludge that can’t go anywhere for three weeks,” Daffeta said.

“As the amount of material increased, the quality of the outgoing water deteriorated.”

As of Friday, between 65 and 70 percent of the plant's sludge pumps were back in operation, Daffeta said.

According to the Press Telegram, "Although water quality has improved, the impact of the first emergency discharge and the release of partially treated wastewater into the sea for about a month is still unknown."

According to LA Sanitation officials, "Additional research is needed to determine if there are long-term effects on aquatic life and habitat in Santa Monica Bay," the news outlet reported.

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