The Bay Foundation (TBF) and California State Parks have released the Malibu Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement Project Final Comprehensive Monitoring Report (Year 6), indicating that the restoration project has been determined to be wholly successful as assessed against project goals and success criteria.
When compared to pre-restoration data, post-restoration results show improved water quality, improved circulation, removal of dead zones and excess sedimentation issues, and a diverse native ecosystem resilient to impacts. The lagoon, located in Malibu Lagoon State Beach, has been on a positive trajectory for the past six years of monitoring, even through recent events such as the Woolsey Fire, which tested its resilience.
The report completes the requirements associated with permitting for the restoration project by the California Coastal Commission, including assessing the site over time and comparing it to pre-restoration data.
“The successful restoration of the Malibu Lagoon is testament to our reliance on good planning rooted in science and best practices,” states CA Assemblymember Richard Bloom. “It is heartening to have sea birds like gulls and cormorants along the beach as well as waterfowl and herons frequenting the tidal areas around native plant covered islands. The simple fact that someone visiting the lagoon and beach today wouldn’t even make note of the ‘restoration’ unless told, speaks volumes to its success. We stand in debt to the many committed scientists and environmentalists that made this happen.”
Prior to the restoration, the 31-acre Malibu Lagoon was on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency list of impaired water bodies for over a decade due to excess nutrients and low oxygen levels. Watched carefully by many for its potential to be a test case for giving life back to a local wetland, the project’s core goals included improving the ecological health of the lagoon’s system by enhancing habitats for native wildlife, improving water quality, and eliminating “dead zones”, or oxygen-deprived areas.
TBF Science Director, Karina Johnston, said, “To see that results across six years of comprehensive monitoring reveal that the Malibu Lagoon restoration project could be a wetland restoration model for the region is very inspiring. Informed by extensive scientific information and a collaboration across a wide range of partners, the restoration project transformed the lagoon from a stagnant, impacted system to a healthy and diverse native ecosystem resilient to disturbances.”
The report comprehensively compares and evaluates pre-restoration conditions to six years of post-restoration conditions, through detailed physical, chemical and biological monitoring components which have resulted in several overarching trends.
“The success of the lagoon project is the culmination of years of focused work and advocacy by environmentalists, public resource agencies, scientific advisors, grantors, and dedicated volunteers on the ground, all of whom were essential to these gratifying results,” said Suzanne Goode, California State Parks Senior Environmental Scientist. “The rapid flushing of Woolsey Fire sediments and debris flows out of the lagoon during the winter of 2018-19 provided dramatic proof of the resilience of nature when dedicated humans commit to reversal of mistakes of the past.”
Submitted by Jorge Moreno and Julie Du Brow