Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card ranks it as the third most polluted beach in the state; Santa Monica Pier shoreline ranks seventh-worst

By Gary Walker

Despite general improvements in coastline water quality up and down the state, pollution remains a “bummer” two local beaches.

Marina “Mother’s” Beach in Marina del Rey and the shoreline near Santa Monica Pier both ranked as some of the state’s most polluted beaches in Heal the Bay’s 2014 Beach Report Card, which examines water quality at California beaches.

Mother’s Beach was number three on Heal the Bay’s “Beach Bummers” list of most polluted shorelines in the state, and Santa Monica Pier ranked seventh.

Heal the Bay analysts assigned letter guides from A to F based on weekly levels of bacterial pollution over several reporting periods. Approximately 90% of beaches received A or B grades for the high-traffic summer period of April through October 2013 — a 6% improvement overall from last year.

On the brighter side, the stretch of Venice Beach near Windward Avenue made the report’s Honor Roll, posting an A+ grade for water quality.

Kirsten James, Heal the Bay’s science and policy director for water quality, attributed the high score to storm water collection projects that the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation has initiated in Venice over the past several years.

“One of the reasons that we’ve seen trends in improving water quality statewide is the low amount of precipitation over the last year, so in general I think we’re seeing upward trends. But I also think this speaks to the fact that the city of Los Angeles is doing some great work to basically capture [storm water runoff] before it gets into the ocean,” James said.

Mother’s Beach, a popular destination for families with small children, has historically posted poor Beach Report Card grades due to a lack of water circulation, she said. Mother’s Beach is located at the back of Marina del Rey harbor, where it is susceptible to urban runoff but protected from waves and tides that can flush out toxins.

“That’s a very sad story, because there are so many children who go to that beach because it’s sort of protected from the tides. We see trends with enclosed beaches like that where there tend to be poorer grades because there’s less circulation,” James said.

A water circulation device near Mother’s Beach may not have been functioning properly during tests, which might have affected pollution levels, she said.

Bird roosting at Santa Monica Pier may be to blame for that area’s low score, James said. Netting to prevent bird roosting on the pier has been in disrepair.