The Long Beach Breakwater Removal Project Takes a Couple Baby Steps Ahead
July 25, 2009 Leave a comment
The south facing beaches in LA and Orange Counties are enjoying an amazing swell of high surf.
A HIGH SURF ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM PDT SATURDAY.
LONG PERIOD SOUTH SWELL WILL BRING HIGH SURF CONDITIONS THROUGH AT LEAST SATURDAY EVENING…GENERATING STRONG RIP CURRENTS. THE HIGH SURF ADVISORY MAY NEED TO BE EXTENDED INTO SUNDAY.
THE HIGHEST SURF WILL OCCUR TONIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY EVENING… WHERE SURF BETWEEN 5 AND 7 FEET WITH MAX SETS UP TO 9 FEET ARE EXPECTED ALONG THE EXPOSED SOUTH AND SOUTHWEST FACING BEACHES…… The Weather Channel
In reality, there were numerous reports of 20 foot faces near the “Wedge” in Newport Beach. Beautiful surf, beautiful day – this is why we live in California.
Except in Long Beach. In an entirely informal, unscientific study I decided to check out the surf while jogging during my lunch break. Ran along Ocean Blvd in Long Beach to the Long Beach/Naples Peninsula, then took the beach route back home near 15th Place. Here are the results of that entirely unscientific study.
Upon hitting the beach near the peninsula, about a mile north of the Seal Beach Pier, the waves were hitting about 8 feet on the face. The water was a nice clear blue, and it was really cool to see such aggressive surf hitting the beach. As I worked my way along the Long Beach “City Beach” the waves remained fairly nice, but the swell was noticeably getting smaller, and was starting to turn from that wonderful blue to a cloudy blue.
By the time I hit Belmont Pier, the waves were about 1.5 ft, and not too aggressive. By the time I returned to 15th place, that wonderful ocean had turned relatively calm, and the water was getting a bit sludgy, flopping on the beach. The scent had turned noticeably sewage, rather than the sharp bite of salt air the Peninsula offered.
The Long Beach Breakwater, built to offer protection to Naval vessels during the second war, as well as protection to the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, has altered the natural flow of ocean water for 60 years. We’ve touched on the story behind the breakwater in previous posts (Breaking the Long Beach Breakwater). Lots of great background information and a complete history of the breakwater.
Heal the Bay, a non-profit organization which monitors the beaches of California, routinely fails Long Beach’s beaches due largely to the poor cleansing action of the ocean through Long Beach and San Pedro Bay (the name of the bay encompassing Long Beach Harbor and the area down to Seal Beach). The Los Angeles River also contributes a tremendous amount of pollutants to the bay, which stays local due to the inability of the area within the Long Beach Breakwater to cleanse itself.
Baby Steps Forward in Removing the Breakwater
The residents of Long Beach had a small success in getting the breakwater removal project moving ahead. A baby step, but a step forward. The Long Beach City Manager announced on Thursday that an initial Long Beach Breakwater Reconnaissance Study is completed, and available for public review.
Long Beach is lucky to have a city council and representative Laura Richardson from the 37th District of California, as well as additional support from Dana Rohrabacher, US Congressman from the 46th District of California. Representative Richardson made the news and gave hope to the people of Long Beach by securing a $100,000 appropriation for the reconnaissance study.
The next step is to hear feedback from the residents of Long Beach (27 July 2009, 5 p.m., at City Council Chambers). If, as anticipated the city gains favorable support from the residents, the next step is to deliver the reconnaissance study to the Army Corps of Engineers. Their only responsibility is to determine if it is in the federal interest to consider the breakwater removal project. A very long process will follow, and actual modification of the breakwater could be years away.
Still, we have made a first baby step in removing the breakwater, and returning San Pedro Bay to health.
Here are links to the Long Beach Breakwater Reconnaissance Study. While most important to the residents and visitors to Long Beach, this is a global issue, and will hopefully pique the interest of all who are concerned with the health of our oceans, citizens, and cities.
John Savageau, Long Beach