|View of the Belmont Pier located in Long Beach, Calif. Photo Credit: Giovanna Gomez|
LONG BEACH- Over the years Long Beach has gained a reputation for being one of California’s, “Beach Bummers” along the West Coast. With a surge of pollution from the LA River and toxic spillages the city is no longer a popular beach destination for tourists.
With high temperatures, even Long Beach residents find their way to neighboring beaches in order enjoy the great Pacific. With the lack of waves and high levels of bacteria in the water, some residents don’t find excitement or safety in the local waters,
“ I usually just come here to tan and work out, when I want to go into the ocean I travel to other beaches. I think of sewage spills i've heard about on the news. ” Melanie Peinado, a local resident noted.
According to the City of Long Beach website there are currently three beach closures including Mothers Beach. The popular beach spot was closed down due to an unknown sewer spillage this past weekend. The beach located near the Marine Stadium will remain closed until the water is able to meet state standards. Officials are monitoring the area daily, to determine the reopening of the beach.
Along with the recent beach closures four regions of the Long Beach coast have advisory warnings for high levels of bacteria. Although areas with “advisory” warnings remain open, contact with water may cause illness due to high levels of bacteria in the water. At the moment 7 out of 19 locations in Long Beach do not meet state standards.
In 2011, the non-profit organization Heal the Bay named Long Beach as one of the most improved beaches on the coast. For years the city continued to make the Beach Bummer list ranking as one of the worst beaches along the west coast. The non-profit organization has continued to monitor improvements made in the cities water compared to other coastal waters, including changes made by city officials.
Through out the years the city officials have continued to focus on keeping Long Beach waters clean. In 2011 the city council voted to ban the distribution of plastic bags in its efforts to prevent pollution. Along with the ban, the Colorado Lagoon recently went under renovation to remove contaminated mud. The lagoon was closed for six months due to high levels of chemicals found in the water. Not only are city officials making an effort, the community is also doing their part to to keep the city clean, participating in monthly beach clean ups
“I try to make it out to Save Our Beach cleans up to help where I can. Long Beach is too beautiful to let it drown in pollution,” noted local resident Diego Alvarez.
Over the last couple of years Long Beach has invested an enormous amount of money into the effort to clean up contaminated waters, however there is a larger issue at hand with the flow of water from the LA River into Long Beach. With continuous dry weather, riverbeds dry up allowing debris and pollution to build up, when rain occurs the riverbeds fill up and flow straight into the ocean. This causes a surge of pollution to inject into the ocean water, allowing the cities water to have high levels of bacteria. With the pollution flowing into the city’s water and water breakers in place, Long Beach waters remain polluted with out the circulation of waves, leaving the debris and trash to remain at a stand still.
With the lack of water circulation and pollution, advocates in the city have proposed to have the city’s current water wall modified in order to create circulation and ocean flow. The wall was put into place just after the 1930’s. to allow U.S. Navy Ships to dock safety on the harbor. At the moment military officials no longer use the water for docking purposes, creating no specific use for the wall.
The Long Beach Surfrider Foundations states that the removal of the wall will increase, “water circulation, and ultimately reducing pollutants in the near shore zone.” The modification of the wall could be the answer to restoring Long Beach water. With city waters restored, residents that travel to nearby beaches would finally be able to make use of their own shores as well as boost our city’s economy.