Surfrider 8th on Heal the Bay’s Beach Bummer list


Future testing may be axed by state budget mess.

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

According to Heal the Bay’s 19th annual Beach Report Card, many California beaches enjoyed very good water quality this past year during dry weather; but not many of those beaches were found in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles County had the worst overall beach water quality in the state last year, with Malibu’s Surfrider Beach weighing in eighth on the report’s list of “Top 10 Beach Bummers” in all of California, or beaches receiving an overall “F” for year-round dry weather.

Also on the Beach Bummer list of 23 “F”-rated beaches statewide are Paradise Cove Pier, Escondido Creek, Solstice Canyon at Dan Blocker County Beach, Marie Canyon at Puerco Beach and Castle Rock Beach. Poor grades mean beachgoers face a higher risk of contracting illnesses such as stomach flu, ear infections, skin rashes and upper respiratory infections.

“Following two years of drought, last year was California’s best in terms of beach quality assessment,” Heal the Bay Spokesman Mike Grimmer said. “This year is just under, probably due to a couple of storms we had earlier this year that flushed a lot of bacteria into the storm water drains.”

Paradise Cove routinely receives an “F” rating in the annual reports; The Kissel Co., owner of the Paradise Cove Mobilehome Park, was assessed a fine of $1.65 million in February for its repeated discharge of raw sewage and failure to submit monitoring reports.

The good news is that some local beaches appear to be healthy. Zuma Beach rated an “A+” for dry year-round assessments, including the important April through October data-gathering period required by AB 411, a 1999 environmental law that mandates state beach health standards.

El Pescador State Beach and Encinal Canyon at El Matador State Beach also rated “A+,” while Leo Carrillo Beach, Nicholas Beach, Broad Beach, Malibu Point, Carbon Beach, Las Flores State Beach and Big Rock Beach all garnered an “A.”

Under a breezy blue sky, Heal the Bay unveiled its report for a public press gathering on Santa Monica Pier Wednesday morning, with Santa Monica City Councilmember Bobby Shriver focusing on the more positive aspects of the report.

“Hey, last year on this day, that beach right behind me was the second most polluted beach in California,” Shriver said. “Today, it’s only the fifth most polluted beach, so we’ve made progress.”

Mark Pestrella, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, said, “We applaud these efforts to educate the public about their role in protecting regional water quality,” Pestrella, “We’re also very pleased to see that the operations of the Flood Control District continue to play an important role in protecting our county coastline. Our Marie Canyon facility in Malibu has removed Puerco Beach from the list of ‘Beach Bummers’ for the first time in three years. Low-flow diversions protect Santa Monica Bay beaches by redirecting urban runoff away from the coast for treatment, and Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey is now getting an “A” grade because of special devices that circulate its surface waters. The Flood Control District has the technology and expertise; our biggest challenge is long-term water quality funding to keep these types of operations on-going.”

Heal the Bay reported as “troubling” the fact that state budgetary constraints are forcing counties such as Ventura and Sonoma counties to scale back water quality monitoring programs. Shriver echoed this concern.

“With the defeat of the ballot propositions yesterday, cities are going to lose a lot of money,” Shriver said. “We’ll have to make up a short fall. School districts are going to suffer. The city of Santa Monica has allocated funds to our district and we hope Malibu considers doing so as well.”

Though generally pleased with this year’s Beach Report Card, Grimmer voiced concern about the low grades in Los Angeles County.

“We strongly recommend that beachgoers check out our weekly beach report on line,” he said. “We have up-to-date information on the water quality at all your favorite surf spots.”

Heal the Bay’s annual Beach Report Card can be viewed online at