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No longer a beach bummer: water quality improves at Santa Monica beaches

Totally awesome bro!


For the first time in several years the beach around the world-famous Santa Monica Pier is no longer listed on environmental watchdog Heal The Bay's annual "Beach Bummer" list thanks in large part to investments made by the City of Santa Monica to prevent harmful urban runoff from reaching the Pacific Ocean.


The Beach Bummer list ranks the most polluted beaches in Calfornia based on the level of harmful bacteria in the water.


Although other Southern California beaches ranked lower than usual due to increased rainfall and the Woolsey Fire, Santa Monica Pier Beach received better rankings from previous years.


Three Los Angeles County beaches ranked in the 2018-2019 Beach Bummer list: Long Beach City Beach at number four, Mother's Beach at number seven, and Cabrillo Beach at number eight.


The annual Beach Report Card assigns A-F grades to 500 California beaches and includes an analysis of water quality for three time periods: summer dry season (April through Oct. 2018), winter dry weather (Nov. 2018 through March 2019) and year-round wet weather conditions.

The grading methodology is endorsed by the State Water Resources Control Board and the better the grade a beach receives, the lower risk of illness for swimmers and surfers.


Find the full report here.  


Over the years, the City has continued to implement numerous efforts, such as the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURRF), Pier storm drain reconstruction, and bird deterrent installations to keep polluted runoff out of the Santa Monica Bay. These efforts improve local coastal water quality, as well as store runoff for beneficial uses, and increase the City's local water resource supply and reduce the use of imported water. 


Just last year, the City completed the Clean Beaches Project, a 1.6 million gallon underground storage tank and pipe system at the Pier. This project was designed to collect rainwater from Santa Monica's Downtown area and to keep it from flowing into the Santa Monica Bay. That collected water is then diverted to the SMURRF for treatment and distribution for non-potable uses. The project also collects dry and wet weather runoff from Moomat Ahiko Way and other areas around the Santa Monica Pier which previously discharged directly into the ocean. 


To ensure year-round usefulness, the project has the ability to collect brackish groundwater and divert it for treatment at the SMURRF. While it is difficult to credit the water quality improvement for 2019 to any one project, the impact of the Clean Beaches project working in concert with the City's other strategies is certainly a major step in the right direction, and hopefully, this improvement will continue in future years.


For more information about Santa Monica's water system, please visit



This article was repurposed from a City of Santa Monica press release.