Transforming F’s to A’s – One Beach at a Time

Ah, summertime. A season filled with warm balmy nights, backyard barbecues, Little League games, and weekend trips to the beach. Each of us has favorite summer memories, and I’d venture to guess that those recollections involve a beach, river or lake – we just naturally gravitate towards water during hot months. We’ve all enjoyed that morning bike ride along Santa Monica Bay, been mesmerized by the festive sights of Echo Park Lake’s Lotus Festival, watched the kids splash in the waves at Dockweiler Beach or explored Cabrillo’s tide pools.

So what better way to say thank you to the places that have been so memorable than by creating a new summer tradition that gives back. Make the pledge, like some Sanitation employees already have, to participate in one clean-up event this summer to keep those special places clean for generations to come. It’s easy to do. There are clean-up events happening year round here in Southern California. A few hours of your time can make a positive impact on those beaches, lakes and rivers we love.

In this issue of LA Stormwater, we focus on the beaches that are so much a part of LA life this time of year. Just before Memorial Day, Heal the Bay published its annual Beach Report Card. Everyone agrees that while beach conditions are steadily improving, we still have a lot of work to do. I’m pleased to announce that this summer 71% of Los Angeles County beaches received an A grade in summer 2009. That’s a 26% jump from 2005 when only 46% of county beaches garnered the top grade.

As a part-time college professor, I know how much hard work goes into pulling up a grade. As the City’s Stormwater Program Manager, I see the tireless work that the City’s team puts into developing projects that transform beaches. One especially noteworthy project is the low-flow diversion program. Every summer day, 23 low-flow diversions along the Santa Monica Bay coastline redirect hundreds of thousands of gallons of polluted urban runoff into our sanitary sewer system for treatment. We are tackling next the pollution that flows to Santa Monica Bay during the winter months. Recent Proposition O-funded upgrades will make for eight City-owned low-flow diversions that will redirect contaminated urban runoff during dry winter days improving water quality year round.

So this summer, get out there and enjoy LA’s beautiful beaches! Because of our team work, our beaches are cleaner than they’ve been in a generation. And, with your ongoing support, our beaches will continue to improve for generations to come.

Best Regards,

Shahram Kharaghani, Stormwater Program Manager

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