Santa Monica Bay health report draws leading policymakers, environmental figures

As people across the Southland are drying out from the recent winter storms, the storm runoff continues to flow into our coastal waters, including Santa Monica Bay. Leading policy makers and environmental figures met at the State of the Bay conference held by the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission (SMBRC) to examine progress in restoring Santa Monica Bay and discuss the challenges ahead...

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 13, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- As people across the Southland are drying out from the recent winter storms, the storm runoff continues to flow into our coastal waters, including Santa Monica Bay. Leading policy makers and environmental figures met at the State of the Bay conference held by the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission (SMBRC) to examine progress in restoring Santa Monica Bay and discuss the challenges ahead.

Results of the SMBRC's 2004 State of the Bay report, a comprehensive assessment of the health of Santa Monica Bay that was released at the conference, showed improvement in water quality, but stubborn contamination problems and health risks remain. The State of the Bay report makes its diagnosis in three main areas: pollutant loads; health risks to bay users; and health of the Bay's living resources and habitats.

According to the report, there has been significant reduction in pollutant loads from wastewater treatment facilities because of better source control and treatment upgrade. In contrast, storm water pollution and trash continue to threaten water quality and have proven to be a challenge in controlling. Water quality at Santa Monica beaches has generally improved, reducing some of the health risk to swimmers. DDT and PCB levels found in Bay seafood have also decreased, although health risks still remain from eating certain types of fish. The report also points out that even though some improvements have been made in protecting and restoring natural habitats, many of the Bay's living resources have been negatively impacted by urbanization, pollution, over harvesting, and visitor trampling.

California Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman and Los Angeles City Council Member and Chair of the SMBRC Jack Weiss were among the experts who addressed the nearly 300 conference participants.

"California has a proud history and tradition of protecting our ocean ecosystem made up of connections between bays and coastal waters," Secretary Chrisman said. "Governor Schwarzenegger's Ocean Action Plan goes hand-in-hand with today's State of the Bay conference: to increase the abundance and diversity of California's oceans, bays, estuaries and coastal wetlands; make water in these bodies cleaner, provide a marine and estuarine environment that Californians can productively and safely enjoy, support ocean dependent economic activities and enhance local public-private partnerships. Like people and the ocean, the Santa Monica Bay is a place that we are duty bound to protect, today, tomorrow and forever."

"The State of the Bay conference is a great opportunity to bring the environmental community and government agencies together to discuss our progress and challenges ahead," said Council Member Weiss. "The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission has a clear agenda for improving the water and surrounding habitat, and I am confident that we will achieve our goals through collaboration like this."

Conference presentations and panel discussions addressed approaches to and successes in protecting ocean and coastal resources, storm water management, coastal and ocean habitats, wetlands and watersheds, and public education. Displays showcased how $25 million in Proposition 12 bond funds have been used to support Bay restoration and protection.

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