SM PIER — Pollution is back at the Santa Monica Pier.
Heal the Bay, a Santa Monica-based environmental organization, released its 24th annual report card, including the top ten most polluted California beaches this year.
The pier was seventh.
In the mid-2000s the pier was consistantly topping pollution lists.
“Two and a half years ago they finished improving the stormdrain there and it pumps right back to (the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Facility) and they put bird netting under the pier,” said Mike Grimmer, who runs the Beach Report Card Program. “ When they finished those projects the grades rebounded back to As and Bs for a year and half. Then nine months ago or so it started to tank again.”
Earlier this year Heal the Bay found holes in some of the bird netting, which City Hall promptly fixed, Grimmer said.
“Storm drains still looked great,” he said. “There used to be a pond outside of the storm drain and that was likely contributing to some of the issues. It was just stagnant. They cleared that up. Since the netting has been repaired it’s still been an F.”
It got a C last week, Grimmer said, but if it’s back to an F next week Heal the Bay will work with City Hall over the summer to figure out what’s going on.
“On a pier like that it could be a sewer leak from some restaurant. It could be anything,” he said. “It could be the park. It could be the people underneath. It could be the birds. There are so many variables especially at that location.”
“It’s not for a lack trying,” said Heal the Bay spokesperson Matthew King. “It’s not like we’re saying, ‘c’mon Santa Monica.’ We have to report the facts. Piers are always a challenge.”
Only one Santa Monica beach, the Strand Street beach, got a passing grade during wet weather, scoring a B. All the other beaches got Fs or Ds. During the dry summer months all beaches but the pier got As. The pier beach got a D and the Strand Street beach got an A+.
Los Angeles County beaches improved as a whole last year said Kirsten James, Science and Policy Director for Water Quality at Heal the Bay. About 90 percent of county beaches got As and Bs during the high-trafffic summer periods, a six percent uptick from last year.
Urban runoff remains the leading source of bacteria pollution at local shorelines, Heal the Bay officials said. After a rainstorms, drains funnel up to 10 billion gallons of polluted runoff right into the Santa Monica Bay.
Heal the Bay estimates that more than 600,000 cases of gastrointestinal illness are caused by polluted water in Ocean and Los Angeles counties.
Every week they release water quality reports on nearly 600 beaches up and down the West Coast.