The City of Long Beach continues to receive excellent water quality grades from Heal the Bay, with 92 percent of its beaches receiving “A” and “B” grades in the 2017 Annual Beach Report Card that was issued on June 15. Long Beach has seen sustained improvements in water quality over the past six years.
“Our investments in technology and infrastructure improvements is paying off as we continue to see increase in our water quality,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “Keeping our beaches and waterways clean for the safety of residents and visitors is our priority.”
Twelve of the 13 beaches sampled received “A” or “B” grades from April through October, including three “A+” grades. The State Health and Safety Code, known as AB 411, requires testing of recreational waters during this important time period when the most people go to the beach and enjoy the water.
One beach received a “B” grade, and one received a “C.” Long Beach also received 62 percent “A” and “B” grades, during the dry winter months. This is down from last year’s 80 percent “A” and “B” grades, possibly due to high rainfall and runoff in 2016.
“I could not be more proud that we have great water quality here in Long Beach,” said Councilmember Jeannine Pearce. “As we move into the summer season, beachgoers can enjoy the water with peace of mind.”
Water quality in the Alamitos Bay received high ratings, with the Bay receiving one “A” and two “A+” grades from April through October, and an “A+”, an “A” and a “B” grade from November to March.
“We recently celebrated new improvements to the Colorado Lagoon,” said Councilwoman Suzie Price. “I hope that our City’s high water quality ratings will encourage the community to come out and enjoy this beautiful place and our coastlines that have made incredible improvements in water quality in the past few years.”
Rainy weather remains a challenge for the region as well as the City of Long Beach, with the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers flowing into Long Beach waters. This year’s rainfall levels exceed the five- and ten-year averages, which may have impacted winter and wet weather grades. The City will continue to work with upstream cities, state and federal regulatory agencies and other stakeholders to address impacts from storm water runoff.
Here are some examples of how the City of Long Beach uses infrastructure improvements, grant funding, regional partnerships and technology to improve water quality in Long Beach:
- A $4.9 million grant from the State Water Resources Control Board Clean Beaches Initiative Grant Program is being used to construct three Low Flow Diversion Systems and two Vortex Separation System devices, both of which divert pollution such as motor oil, dog waste and lawn fertilizer away from waterways. Construction of the project started in summer 2016 and was completed in spring 2017.
- The City of Long Beach’s latest Stormwater Project, “Long Beach Municipal Urban Stormwater Treatment (LB-MUST),” was designed in January 2017 to intercept polluted street water and stormwater runoff from rainy weather, and to prevent the transport of pollution into the Los Angeles River. The runoff water would then be diverted to a treatment facility where it would be recycled. Construction of an early-action phase of the project is tentatively scheduled for spring 2018, and the overall construction is projected to reach completion in May 2021.
- Long Beach and 15 upriver cities have installed approximately 12,000 trash-capturing devices in regional storm drains that flow to the Los Angeles River and the Long Beach coastline. This prevents more than 800 tons of trash annually from entering the storm drains and ending up on the City’s beaches. These devices were installed in 2010.
- Improvements at Colorado Lagoon included removing contaminated sediment; cleaning an underground culvert to improve water circulation with Alamitos Bay; installing bioswales to naturally filter out stormwater contaminants, and installing trash traps and a low-flow diversion system to divert some of the most heavily contaminated stormwater into the sewage system. The Lagoon was reopened to the public in May 2017. The final component of the master restoration plan is re-creating the open channel between the Lagoon to Marine Stadium and Alamitos Bay. This will create a more natural vegetated channel that will further improve tidal exchange and create new aquatic resources.