Heal the Bay notes tremendous water quality improvements

By Gary Walker

Mother’s Beach water quality jumped from an F to an A

Water quality at Mother’s Beach hasn’t been much to write home about the past few summers. With limited water circulation deep in the enclosure of Marina del Rey harbor’s D basin, pollution from birds and boats and storm runoff kept it on Heal the Bay’s “Beach Bummers” list of the most polluted beaches in the state since 2013.

This year, however, Mother’s Beach brought home an A on the nonprofit’s annual Beach Report Card — representing one of the biggest water quality turnarounds in the state.

“We’re very thrilled with the news,” Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors spokeswoman Nicole Mooradian said. “We haven’t done anything drastic this year, so we’re really not sure why we did so well.”

County officials have said for years that bird guano contributed heavily to the previous poor water quality grades, as well as a lack of natural circulation because Mother’s Beach is in the back of the bay. But the county has since added additional wiring to discourage birds
from hanging around so much, and an underground water circulation pump that had broken down has been in good working order for two years now.

“There’s also new sand, and we’re grooming it with cleaner sand now,” Mooradian said. “The sun can actually sanitize it.”

L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn, whose district includes Marina del Rey, also cited the new wiring to discourage loitering birds as a contributor to the improved water quality at Mother’s Beach.

“The cleaner water we have seen over this last year is welcome good news and might be a sign that our investments are working. We need to continue monitoring the water quality at Mother’s Beach and implementing water quality projects that protect the health and safety of both beachgoers and the natural environment,” Hahn said.

Meanwhile, the county has also been investing in new picnic pavilions, an upgraded promenade and renovated restrooms for Mother’s Beach. These improvements will debut when the beach reopens on June 28.

Statewide, the Beach Report Card shows improvements for most of the state’s beaches in both dry and wet weather conditions. A record 37 beaches made the annual report’s Honor Roll this year, meeting the highest water quality standards.

“We’re excited about the numbers — especially at Marina Beach — and we hope to keep that list growing,” said Karen Vu, a beach quality analyst with Heal the Bay.

Expanded storm runoff capture measures, infrequent rainfall, numerous beach cleanup efforts and local governments taking water quality more seriously are key factors behind this year’s good grades, Vu said.