Santa Monica
Traditional Reporting for A Digital Age

ROQUE & MARK Co. Real Estate 310.828.7525

Home Special Reports Archive Links The City Commerce About Contacts Editor Send PR

Water Quality Under Pier Gives Santa Monica Beaches a Bum Rap, City Officials Say

Bob Kronovetrealty
We Love Property Management Headaches!

Good Vibes Start Here. Santa Monica Travel and Tourism

Santa Monica Apartments

Santa Monica College
1900 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 434-4000


By Jorge Casuso

August 21, 2023 -- Recent reports in the media questioning the water quality around the Pier present a skewed picture of Santa Monica beaches, which are safe for swimming, City officials said Friday.

The media reports referred to in a blog post on the City's website are based on the frequent LA County Public Health advisories around the Pier, which Heal the Bay this year named California's most polluted beach ("Santa Monica Pier Is California's Most Polluted Beach," June 15, 2023).

But the Pier water represents only 5 percent of Santa Monica beach, which "consistently receives an 'A' grade or above for water quality on average," Sunny Wang, the City's Water Resources Manager wrote in the post.

"The best beach and water quality is 100 yards to the left and right of the Santa Monica Pier, thanks to the City of Santa Monica’s significant investments in pollution reduction."

Wang notes that the City has spent more than $100 million in the past five years "to protect the Santa Monica Bay and improve beach water quality."

This includes investing in the Clean Beaches Project completed in 2018, which uses a 1.6-million-gallon tank under the Pier lot to capture stormwater and urban runoff from the downtown and pier drainage areas.

And the recently completed Sustainable Water Infrastructure Project (SWIP) that includes a 1.5-million-gallon stormwater harvesting tank and a state-of-the-art advanced water purification facility.

Collectively, the two projects "diverted more than 20 million gallons of stormwater pollution away from the Santa Monica Bay this past winter," Wang said.

This month, the City completed installing new bird netting under the Pier "to ensure the well-being of the birds while minimizing their impact on beach water quality," Wang wrote.

According to Wang, more than 100 different bird species "have been observed around the Santa Monica Pier," where birds "often perch and nest on the support structure."

The area underneath the Pier the "news articles were referring to" presents "greater challenges" due to a lack of sunlight and stormwater runoff, Wang said.

"Sunlight provides natural disinfection through its ultraviolet rays, and the water directly beneath the pier is largely shaded," he wrote.

In addition, "when it rains, stormwater that flows over lawns, pavement, streets, and other hard surfaces picks up trash, pollutants, oil from vehicles, and dirt that ends up in the ocean."

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

That tied it with Playa Blanca in Baja California, Mexico, which is "impacted by sewage-contaminated runoff from the Tijuana area," where some places have "nonexistent sewage infrastructure," according to the report.

The water around the large Pico-Kenter storm drain near the Pier received an A grade in dry summer weather but flunked in winter dry weather and in wet weather, according to the report.

Other stretches of Santa Monica Beach earned mixed grades during wet weather, but all four areas tested aside from the Pier earned A and A+ grades in dry summer weather.

Back to Lookout News copyrightCopyright 1999-2023 All Rights Reserved. EMAIL Disclosures