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Long Beach: Water quality shows dramatic improvement

September 27, 2011 | 11:28 am

Long Beach water quality

The much-maligned waters off Long Beach have improved significantly, according to a new report that gives the city's beaches their highest water-quality ratings in a decade.

All of the beaches in the city earned As or Bs in the environmental group Heal the Bay’s End of Summer Beach Report Card.

It's a dramatic turnaround for Long Beach, whose beaches often rank among the most polluted in the state. Last summer, just 73% of its beaches earned A or B grades. Long Beach is the outlet for the Los Angeles River, a major conduit for polluted runoff.

Statewide, 92% of California beaches earned A or B grades this year, the same as last year, according to the report.

But the picture was not rosy at some Southern California beaches.

Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro earned an F for the eighth consecutive summer, despite millions of dollars spent on municipal projects to improve water quality.

Also flunking were a number of popular beaches in Malibu, including Surfrider Beach, Malibu Pier, Solstice Canyon at Dan Blocker County Beach, Carbon Beach at Sweetwater Canyon and Topanga State Beach.

The annual report by Heal the Bay evaluated hundreds of beaches in California, Oregon and Washington from Memorial Day to Labor Day, giving them grades of A to F based on tests for bacterial pollution, which indicate how likely the water is to make swimmers sick.

The improvements in Long Beach factored into an overall increase in water quality in Los Angeles County, which saw 85% of its beaches achieve A or B grades, up from 79% last year, according to the report.

Long Beach officials credited the gains to new projects to treat or divert pollution before it flows into the ocean. One priority has been a multimillion-dollar effort to clean up what has historically been the city’s most contaminated swimming spot: Colorado Lagoon.

A city report also documented improvements in beach water quality over the summer, saying "major efforts taken by the city to reduce dry weather discharges from storm drains, intercept trash and sediment, and improve circulation and mixing appear to have positively impacted water quality."

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-- Tony Barboza

Photo: A boy jumps off a bridge into Alamitos Bay in Long Beach during training in July for the city's junior lifeguard program. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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