Statement Regarding the Heal the Bay 2018-2019 Annual Beach Report Card
The City of San Clemente’s Clean Ocean Program strives to protect and preserve public health of swimmers and surfers in the Pacific Ocean by implementing a comprehensive program of education outreach, inspections, and enforcement to reduce urban runoff and stormwater pollution. Heal the Bay’s recently released 2018-19 Annual Beach Report Card, a summary of the past year’s indicator bacteria water quality sampling at locations along the West Coast, assigns grades to beaches based on water sampling analysis.
Three San Clemente beaches landed on the Honor Roll this year: Linda Lane Beach, North Beach and Avenida Califia Beach. To earn a spot on the Honor Roll, a beach must be monitored weekly all year, and the beach must receive an A+ for all season and weather conditions. Poche Beach received a C Grade during summer months of 2018, an improvement from last year’s F Grade.
The San Clemente Pier site was assigned a Grade F landing it on the Beach Bummer list for the second time in three years. Indicator bacteria exceedances are found in the shoreline area directly underneath and 100 feet north and south of the Pier where swimming, surfing, and diving are prohibited for safety concerns. Data from sampling sites 100 feet north and south of the Pier have consistently met bacteriological water quality standards most of the time indicating that water recreational user health is protected where swimming and surfing is allowed. Thus the issue is in an isolated area underneath the Pier where municipal code prohibits people from accessing the ocean water.
The Clean Ocean Program has an ongoing study to progressively pursue the cause of the bacteria exceedances. This study includes the use of DNA markers (human, canine and avian) to identify the sources of the bacteria exceedances. Data from this project will be forthcoming and continue through the summer months. Data will be analyzed in order to formulate a plan to eliminate the bacteria sources. This study includes a City Council appointed Stakeholder Advisory Committee that will review and provide feedback on the study and data analysis.
Based on water quality data from a study conducted in 2016 and the number of birds roosting in the understory of the Pier in very close proximity to the ocean water sampling site, the City believes that a significant source of the bacteria exceedances is from bird fecal matter. The City installed bird deterrent netting under the boardwalk of the Pier west of the Fisherman’s restaurant to Lifeguard Tower Zero. If data from the current study points to avian sources, the City will consider installing bird deterrents under the Fisherman’s restaurant area of the Pier.
The City will continue to conduct source investigations in the Pier Bowl Watershed area. Citizens can help protect ocean water quality by reporting any water running down the street when it is not raining, or any illegal dumping into storm drains by calling the Pollution Reporting Hotline at 949-366-1553.