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Malibu Beach Water Quality to Improve Under New Agreement

Santa Monica Baykeeper and Natural Resources Defense Council

An agreement reached on April 13 by the City of Malibu, Santa Monica Baykeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council seeks to significantly improve beachwater quality along the Malibu coastline for millions of beachgoers who visit each year by reducing stormwater pollution before it reaches the ocean.  

“This agreement marks a significant step towards a cleaner Santa Monica Bay,” said Liz Crosson, executive director of Santa Monica Baykeeper. “Baykeeper looks forward to working with the City of Malibu to improve public and ecological health along our prized coastline.”

“Clean beachwater is not only good for public health, it supports healthy coastal economies that are key to California’s tourism industry,” said David Beckman, director of the water program at NRDC. “We appreciate the city’s important commitments to clean water.”

“By curbing the biggest sources of pollution in the Santa Monica Bay, we can keep trips to Malibu beaches carefree, and prevent people from getting sick when they go in the ocean,” said NRDC senior attorney Steve Fleischli.

Beachwater pollution nationwide causes a range of waterborne illnesses in swimmers including stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, ear, nose and throat problems, dysentery, hepatitis, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders and other serious health problems. For senior citizens, small children and people with weak immune systems, the results can be fatal.

The settlement resolves litigation between the parties and opens an important new chapter in efforts to protect beachgoers in Santa Monica Bay. 

Key points of the agreement include:

  • The City of Malibu is required to take action at stormdrains throughout the City to protect public health and the environment, and ensure that stormwater and urban runoff from the City at these locations will not contribute to water quality problems in Santa Monica Bay and Malibu Lagoon.  The locations include specific drains near Marie Canyon, Las Flores, Malibu Civic Center, Broad Beach and Wildlife Road. 
  • Water quality improvements will be achieved by increased adoption of low impact development techniques such as source control, rainwater harvesting, infiltration and, where necessary, stormwater treatment. 
  • Malibu will undertake additional efforts to improve water quality associated with runoff from Serra Retreat, and will fund a water quality assessment of ocean health in Santa Monica Bay.

The agreement is subject to a 45-day review period with the U.S. Department of Justice and approval by federal District Court Judge A. Howard Matz. If approved, this agreement resolves Santa Monica Baykeeper and NRDC v. City of Malibu, Case No. CV 08-1465-AHM.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org

Founded in 1993, the Santa Monica Baykeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the Santa Monica Bay, San Pedro Bay and adjacent waters through enforcement, fieldwork, and community action. Baykeeper works to achieve this goal through litigation and regulatory programs that ensure water quality protections in waterways through Los Angeles County.

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