Algae Bloom in Malibu Lagoon Troubles Some Locals, but Not State Parks

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Malibu residents voiced concerns about a large algae bloom in Malibu Lagoon at the Monday, May 24, Malibu City Council meeting, with one requesting the city demand California State Parks to do something about the lagoon—which public speakers said could breach as soon as the early morning of Wednesday, May 26. 

Malibu Lagoon has previously been plagued by algal blooms; in 2018, one large bloom choked native plants and fish—which suffocated, died and floated to the surface in a massive, smelly die-off. 

One way for the bloom to go away would be for the lagoon to breach, meaning it would spill into the ocean, taking the bloom along with it. 

Some residents, such as Judith Israel, want State Parks to clean up the bloom before the full moon brings on a possible breach. 

“The Malibu Lagoon needs immediate attention,” a man called Brett, who was speaking on behalf of Israel, told city council. “It is completely filled to the brim and blanketed with yellow algae blooms,” he said, calling the amount of algae “alarming.”

“Please tell State Parks to maintain the lagoon,” he later added.

Acting District Superintendent for the State Parks’ Angeles District Jerry West later confirmed to The Malibu Times via phone that he had seen the bloom, but said it was a “naturally occurring phenomenon” and that California State Parks did not plan to intervene. 

“We’re experiencing drought conditions,” he said on Tuesday afternoon, May 25. “I can tell you the dissolved oxygen levels are at acceptable levels in the lagoon and when I drove by about 30 minutes ago it was full of shorebirds and looked healthy to me.” 

West said he did not know when the lagoon would next breach and that he was not prepared to comment on what might happen if the lagoon breaches, but said overall that he was not concerned about the situation.

“The Bay Foundation, which provides regular grades on water qualities associated with the lagoon and the waters outside the lagoon—they’re not reporting anything worrisome. Nor have we been contacted by LA County Public Health to advise the public of any unsafe conditions,” he said.

In the past, locals, including surfers, have dug trenches in order to force the lagoon to breach. West confirmed to The Malibu Times that had happened before and said his department was against it.

“For the general public to just begin excavation on state land? That’s a violation of public resource code, and without any planning or monitoring, we don’t know what the potential is for adverse impacts,” he said.