The State Water Resources Control Board, created by the legislature in 1967, and whose mission is to ensure the highest reasonable quality for waters of the State, found and declared that the protection of the quality of the ocean waters for use and enjoyment by the people of the State, requires control of the discharge of waste to ocean waters in accordance with the California Ocean Plan. This plan protects the beneficial uses of ocean waters such as water-contact and non-contact recreation including aesthetic enjoyment, commercial and sport fishing, rare and endangered species, marine habitat, fish spawning and shellfish harvesting.
The City can offer people ways to produce less waste, and use environmentally – friendly alternatives to accomplish things in their daily life. This always results in a favorable outcome. Information on “green LA”, solutions for LA residents, can be found at:
The overall health of the Santa Monica Bay is good and it is improving. Species have been observed in increasingly greater numbers over the past few years with improved Bay water quality. The improved conditions are due, in large part, to the exceptional wastewater processing standards at the Hyperion Treatment Plant.
The cessation of sludge disposal to the Bay in 1987 and the discharge of full secondary effluent at Hyperion Treatment Plant in 1998 resulted in a dramatic reduction in the discharge of solids to the Bay. This coincided with an immediate increase in the number and diversity of species near the 5-mile discharge outfall. Today, the area around the outfall has the greatest species diversity of any equivalent site in the Bay.
Most species of locally caught fish contain low levels of pollutants of concern and are safe to eat. However, scorpionfish and a few other species exceed the safe levels set by the State of California. The State of California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) makes the following recommendations for fish caught locally in SMB;
Always check the OEHHA website for updated data. These recommendations by the State should be followed.
EMD’S tissue assessment data continues to support the findings of OEHHA.
The Environmental Monitoring Division monitors and tests the waters of SMB and the inner Cabrillo Beach shorelines daily (5 days per week). The results of these tests are reported daily to the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DOHS) and based on the results, the DOHS issues postings for the beaches advising the public if it is safe or not safe to swim. Swimming and wading are safe in most locations along the coast during most days of the year. Warnings, when posted, should be heeded. It is highly recommended that beachgoers not swim within 100 ft of a flowing storm drain. During a rain event, storm water may carry relatively high levels of pollutants, including bacteria and possibly pathogens. Storm water is not treated prior to discharging into water bodies, such as the Santa Monica Bay.
Check www.healthebay.org web-site for their beach report card and recommendations on where and where not to swim.
A number of epidemiological studies have shown that exposure to polluted bodies of water during recreational use is associated with diseases, such as gastroenteritis. Storm water and urban runoff are the biggest contributors of pollution and contamination to shoreline waters, especially during rainstorms. Runoff from storm drains can contain harmful pollutants such as bacteria, viruses, and toxins. Runoff originates as rain wash down from rooftops, watering from residential yards, commercial facilities, parking lots, street washings, and many other surfaces. Unlike wastewater, these flows are not treated prior to being discharged near the shoreline. The Department of Health Services advises not to swim within 100 feet of a storm drain.
Past and current data have shown that discharge from the treatment plant has little to no impact on the SMB shoreline; rather, the largest sources of pollution are flows from storm drains and urban runoff. The Department of Health Services advises not to swim within 100 feet of a storm drain.
While the location of the Hyperion wastewater plume shifts depending on currents and water temperatures, it has never reached area beaches (based on over 500 water quality surveys). Additionally, bacteriological surveys of water samples collected at the area of Hyperion’s 5-mile outfall indicate very low levels of indicator bacteria. Due to numerous factors that have been published, it is unlikely that anyone would get sick by swimming at the beach by Hyperion from treated effluent discharged five miles out and 180 feet down.
The Department of Health Service advises not to swim within 100 feet of a storm drain.
Along with an increased volume of storm drain runoff during rainstorms, bacterial concentrations in runoff are also increased. The Department of Health Services advises no swimming or body contact in ocean waters until three days after a day of rain.
Years of monitoring indicate the wastewater “plume” does not reach the shore. Bacterial contamination of the beaches is almost always caused by storm drain discharges, which occur during dry weather as well as during and after a storm. Dry-weather flows originate as runoff from rooftops, residential yards, parking lots, freeways, industrial and commercial facilities, construction sites, golf courses, parks, and many other surfaces.
Unlike wastewater, most of these flows are not treated prior to discharge near the shoreline.
Treatment plants no longer are the primary source of visible pollution, as was in the past. Stormwater remains the biggest contributor. The SMB Status Report, pages 9 and 10, discusses the impact of these pollution sources and their mitigation by City programs.
Yes, there are discharges from commercial and industrial facilities, as well as surface run-off that enters directly into Santa Monica Bay. Legacy pollution, i.e., historical deposits of pollutants, continues to be a significant source of contamination. For example, DDT and PCB, which were banned in 1972 when the Clean Water Act was passed, are still found in specific areas of Santa Monica Bay at levels that are harmful to human health and marine animals. A recent study conducted by the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project revealed that aerial deposition of heavy metals has a significant adverse impact on the water quality in the Bay.
Sewage moving through the plant’s processes is tested to ensure that systems are operating properly to effectively remove pollutants. The sewage is analyzed for a variety of chemicals, many of which can be toxic or carcinogenic at certain levels. During 2003 through 2004, the presence of toxic or carcinogenic chemicals was rarely detected. With few exceptions in thousands of tests, these chemicals were either not present at all or were at such low levels that they could not be detected by the most sensitive instrumentation. In cases where they were detected, most were in concentrations well below the requirements of Hyperion’s NPDES permit and the objectives of the California Ocean Plan. Therefore, when detected, the pollutants were at levels that are considered protective of human health and the animals inhabiting the Bay.
Stormwater and runoff are the biggest contributors of pollution and contamination to shoreline waters, especially during storms. As a result, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board has issued a joint permit to several municipalities having watersheds that connect to Santa Monica Bay, including the City of Los Angeles, in order to reduce the amount of contamination flowing to the Bay. Results from the City’s monitoring efforts are used to track the effectiveness of the clean-up efforts as well as to help create the Beach Report Card.
The City of Los Angeles is committed to protecting public health and improving the water quality of our coastal waters by:
Of course it matters and individuals can make a difference. Just remember, for every one of you, there are many more thinking just like you. Be aware of the trash reduction and recycling measures recommended by your city of residence. Practice them. Picking up after your pets and proper disposal of wastes are a start. Help your neighbors become informed and participate in beach clean-ups and other volunteer events. These are significant ways to help the Bay and to help you have control over your environment.
The City can offer people solutions to produce less waste, and use environmentally friendly alternatives to accomplish things in your daily life. This always results in a favorable outcome. Information on “green LA”, solutions for LA residents, can be found at:
EMD is categorically a government environmental laboratory, but we are better known as one of a family of Divisions in the Bureau of Sanitation working to provide a cleaner, healthier standard of living for Los Angeles. The Bureau of Sanitation (BOS), part of Los Angeles’ Public Works Department, is responsible for a wide array of services, from trash collection and landfill disposal, to sewage collection and treatment, many of which are environmentally regulated and therefore require testing by a certified laboratory. EMD provides testing services for the BOS and other city agencies, as well as providing technical services for many environmental studies.
Laboratories that report legally mandated data, such as that used in NPDES reports, must have an ELAP (Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program) Certification. Simply put, this ensures the laboratory is capable, reliable, and trustworthy in it’s testing. The laboratory undergoes a physical inspection on a regular basis, is sent “blind” samples to see if they obtain the “correct” result, and must retain thorough records on all calibrations, references used, and raw data generated. A deficient laboratory will lose it’s certification, and will no longer be allowed to provide legal data. The certification is given to laboratories who “pass the muster” by the State of California’s Department of Health Services. EMD has held California Certification since 1989, with no lapses.
The division’s staff perform extensive testing and assessments in the fields of microbiology, marine biology, toxicity testing, wastewater and marine chemistry, solid waste and air quality monitoring, process control, and industrial waste pretreatment analysis. Daily testing of wastewater from all treatment processes is routinely provided at each facility to ensure compliance with operating permits. Plant engineers and operators immediately use test results to fine-tune the process operations at each facility, which, together, treat over 400 million gallons of wastewater each day. This valuable information is used to provide the best waste management services to the public while protecting the air, land, and water from pollutants.
EMD has it’s largest facility at the Hyperion Treatment Plant, located on the beach in Playa Del Rey, California. EMD has it’s state-of-the-art facility on the 4th and 5th floors of the new Harry Pregerson Technical Support Facility (HPTSF) at Hyperion. EMD also has laboratories located at the three other treatment plants: Terminal Island Treatment Plant, the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant, and the Los Angeles-Glendale Water Reclamation Plant.
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