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Preparations Underway for Final Months of Malibu Lagoon Project

Native plants that were salvaged before bulldozing began could be reintroduced to the Malibu Lagoon as early as this week, according to a California State Parks official.

With an October deadline quickly approaching, the contractor for the Malibu Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement Project is working extra hours to finish grading and other work, according to a California State Parks official.

According to the permits granted by the California Coastal Comission, the contractor, Ford E.C., Inc., has until Oct. 15 to finish up work in the wetlands area of the Malibu Lagoon.

"They are working extra hours to get caught up," said Craig Sap, district supervisor for the California State Parks Los Angeles District.

Sap said the contractor fell a little behind when plans for the controversial dewatering plan, which outlined the process and guidelines for pumping and treating water out of the lagoon and into the ocean at Surfrider Beach, were delayed a month.

"They have to be done by Oct. 15, but in reality they are taking the dike down  by Oct. 2, so they have to finish all that grading," Sap said.

Sap said the project is on schedule to finish by December.

Over the past month, the contractor has constructed bird islands, which are already being used by wildlife. Work is nearly complete on the new public access path and other "interpretive features," according to Sap.

A dike constructed to separate the lagoon channels from the main body of the lagoon is slated to be taken down in early October, but first a subcontractor will reintroduce native plants to the area so they can take root.

"They’ve got to do some planting and work within that area. It’s separated from the main channel. They’re trying to get all this done before the dike comes down," Sap said.

Some of the plants that will be reintroduced were salvaged from the lagoon, including Jaumea Carnosa, a succulent-like plant that is able to tolerate brackish water, said Karen Flagg, head restoration ecologist at Santa Barbara-based Growing Solutions.

According to Sap, other plants that are indigenous to the Malibu area will also be planted.

"They know from sampling that at time they were there," Sap said.

As the grading winds down, Sap said more material will be trucked off the site.

Once work begins on the deconstruction of the dirt dike, Sap said the material will be hauled off the site as well.

"That’s the material that will be hauled off," Sap said.

Andy Lyon, who has been an active critic of the Malibu Lagoon project, said at a recent Malibu City Council meeting that he was concerned the dirt being used for the public access trail had not been tested.

Sap said the material used for the dike and the public access way was not toxic.

"There’s no toxic materials. It’s all organic. Once it dried out, it becomes inert or any other chemical compound. They become not an issue. They’ve done testing and there is nothing contaminated," Sap said.

Malibu Patch will have more on the project, especially the interpretive features, in the coming weeks as it begins to wrap up. Make sure to check back for updates and post your questions about the project in the comment section below.

Hans Laetz September 23, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Andy Lyon says "nothing has been hauled out.:" Suggestion: hit page up several times. "Once work begins on the deconstruction of the dirt dike, Sap said the material will be hauled off the site as well. "That’s the material that will be hauled off," Sap said."
hellwood September 23, 2012 at 06:39 PM
hans, i read again and again, but i guess my reading comprehension skills are based on what is actually written, so i am confused. are we reading the same article? where does it say that anything was toxic or contaminated?
Hans Laetz September 23, 2012 at 06:48 PM
It's in the EIR. It's been described in the Surfside and Malibu Times. State Parks has explained it at City Council. It's been reported over and over and over again. It's inferred even in this article.
hellwood September 23, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I think what was "inferred" was the fact that since nothing toxic was found, the dirt could be disinfected by drying it out. any chemist knows that drying dirt with chemicals in it doesnt magically make the toxicity go away
Marcia Hanscom September 23, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Most of the material to be hauled off site are the piles of wood that were once the bridges which there was nothing wrong with. Yes, they found some dumped debris, but it did not mean that acres of plants and animals needed to be killed, rounded up, trapped, suffocated or moved, which caused more stress and death. Growing Solutions is a reputable plant growing company. We worked with them AND THE COMMUNITY in Venice, and we collaborated in a positive way with them. No one is suggesting they are not good. But much of the "salvage operation" they did was totally unnecessary. Beds of native marsh daisy (Jaumea carnosa) were in perfect shape - only destroyed or "salvaged" (salvage operations, by definition, mean they only saved a tiny percentage of the plants) in order to make way for months of moving around of soils and bulldozers killing everything in their paths. What happened to the 50+ rare South Coast Marsh Vole, which State Parks has now admitted was the rare species? A private developer would never have been allowed to cover this up. What about the Tidewater Goby? Where are the monitors for this endangered species of fish? Completely missing in action for the last couple of months. Where are the records for these sensitive species and others? We've asked, and the lawyers for State Parks - including the one who now has stepped down - have declined to provide the information. Transparent process? No.
Hans Laetz September 23, 2012 at 07:24 PM
So, since the courts of law and the Coastal Commission have both rejected every scientific claim and "fact" that the Ballona Institute has purported, why should anyone believe the above statement? In fact, the Ballona Institute and its web of interconnected affiliates were found in the judicial proceeding at Coastal to have acted in bad faith. In non-legal words, you were found to have made stuff up. That's a very serious finding. If you did that in a courtroom, you could be fined. I hate doing this in public. But if Ballona Institute is going to surface from the Playa Del Rey lagoon and make more charges, it is important to point out that every single claim plaintiffs have made before the Coastal Commission, Superior Court and the Court of Appeals has been weighed, and rejected. Overwhelmingly so. A track record of total failure and rejection, in other words. I am so glad to hear the Santa Barbara group meets your seal of approval. Perhaps they can provide a lesson, here in Malibu. Oh, no, I forgot, You and RRVDH know so much more than all the rest of the marine biologists in California.
hellwood September 23, 2012 at 08:58 PM
RE: HANS "My stance has been unchanged, publicly-stated and reasonable. It likely cost me the election, because of the fear, uncertainty and disinformation being sowed by certain outsiders who saw this as a fundraising opportunity." maybe it was your inability to treat those who disagree with you with respect that cost you the election? You would have been a good council member. oh well.
Hans Laetz September 23, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Yes, thank you. No doubt, if I had kept my mouth shut, and let all those outrageous fibs and personal attacks against good people go unanswered, and if I just smiled and agreed with everybody about everything like all the others, I would have won. Not me. And this is not about me. The fact is, these stream of flotsam and foam from certain parties has been heard, considered, rejected. Yet it comes back, as if there is any credibility to it.
John Martin September 23, 2012 at 09:32 PM
I'm excited to see the end results of this great project! It's a mess during construction; no one denies that. Marcia and friends, please crawl back under your rocks and let people do good work.
Cece Stein September 23, 2012 at 10:14 PM
The dewatering plan was not flawed and was approved by the Coastal Commission in May. No changes occurred. The part that took longer were the details of how the contractor would move water around on the project site as variations in the lagoon changed. ( to date the discharge outlet has never had a lower bacteria count ) Wendi never forced anything, but maybe Wendi could provide us with the quote that says State Parks said the Cal Trans fill was TOXIC so we can debate what was said in context.The stagnant dead end channels incubated a toxic stew of bacterias and viruses where oxygen depleted substrates and made it impossible for micro organisms to exist as the building blocks of a healthy ecosystem. Most of the soil that will remain in the Western channels has been cleaned and separated of trash, asphalt, concrete, diesel tanks, OLD tires, car parts, ceramic sewer pipes, creosoted telephone poles and miscellaneous building materials etc. dumped back in the 30's and 40's. The unusable soil has and will continue to be trucked off the site as the dike is taken away, all 88,000 cubic yards of it. Marcia - not ONE Goby died. What few of them there were in the Western Channels prior to bldg. the dike were safely put into the main channel of the lagoon where they prefer to be. If the Gobies were no longer in the western channels what sense does it make to waste money on goby monitors? Declined to get INFO? Credibility is earned by truth - none of which is apparent in your comment.
Wendi Werner September 24, 2012 at 12:41 AM
The entire de watering plan had to be changed. Read the two of them, they are very different. Also, this project was based on a sick and dieing lagoon. Well, we know that the 13,500 cy of sediment that was to be trucked out because it was so toxic will not be trucked out because it is not toxic. The water quality that was so polluted turned out to be less than 1/2 as polluted as was expected. Last, the choking to death lagoon shows that the anaerobic conditions were at 16% in various locations at different times (Peer reviewed USGS study of the area). Malibu boondoggle.
Hans Laetz September 24, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Mark Abramson is a state employee and cannot post on this site. But he makes these points: Andy and Marcia stated that no material has been hauled from the site. At least 20 large dump trucks of trash and debris have been removed and hauled away including asphalt, concrete, creosote treated telephone poles, 7 segments of large .12 inch in diameter and larger pipes leading from the Colony directly into the lagoon and reams of trash have been removed and hauled away. Andy states that 90000 yards of dirt were to be hauled away. As usual he is dead wrong -- only 13,700 yards were predicted to be hauled off site. This dirt will be taken from the bottom of the channels and the islands were where the bulk of the debris laden fill materials were found. The soil testing that has been done on excavated materials found no toxic, hazardous, or contaminated soils. The organic material that has been removed (black muck) robs oxygen from the water and is the reason that we have very poor diversity and numbers of benthic organisms.
Hans Laetz September 24, 2012 at 12:58 AM
MORE: Additionally we have found no worms or other organisms in the fill soils which were astonishingly devoid of life even worse than monitoring demonstrated. Some of the nutrient rich organic wetland soil material has been blended in to the fill soils to create suitable soil conditions for plant and animal life as was always planned. The worst soils will be hauled off site and the contractor working with State Parks has been able to minimize truck trips during the busy summer season, as was requested by the opponents. They have also timed off haul truck trips to avoid peak traffic and therefore we have caused no impact to traffic 3/4 of the way through the project. All soils have been dried in the sun and repeatedly turned to remove any potential bacteria issues. This is a proven technique for disinfecting soils. What the opponents forget or conveniently ignore was the project intent, and execution was to open up circulation by creating wider channels at appropriate elevations to allow for enhanced tidal flow during open conditions and improved circulation during closed conditions.This will prevent the massive build up of the oxygen stealing organic muck that builds up.
Hans Laetz September 24, 2012 at 12:59 AM
AND: Incidentally all the folks, like Andy, who continually stated that there was never a wetland there despite overwhelming science, are again definitively proven wrong. Everywhere we have dug down to elevation 3 feet or lower clearly expose a layer of buried plant material with 12 inches of top soil then layers of alluvial wetland soils starting at elevation 2 feet. Could not be clearer. This profile is visible around the entire site at every location that we have reached these elevations. Water quality testing and dewatering has worked just as we stated! No ascendances from the treatment plant have yet been documented. Additionally, if someone checked I bet that this is the cleanest year at the Surfrider breach location in a long time (maybe ever). The site is looking great and planting starts next week and everyone else that had listened to the opponents must by now realizing that they have been wrong on everything. Not a single statement that the opponents made so far can be verified with facts on the ground.
Wendi Werner September 24, 2012 at 01:42 AM
The project bidder plans from Bidsync clearly state the sediment was not toxic.
Wendi Werner September 24, 2012 at 01:47 AM
No Hans, It was when the RWQCB exec. director Sam Unger finally listened to the fatally flawed de watering plan that our City manager wrote letter upon letter about. It was finally changed to a much better plan.
Wendi Werner September 24, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Considering you have not been to one single lecture, hearing CC meeting or watershed anything. I consider your comment ignorant.
marie September 24, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Hans, while I strongly disagree with you on the lagoon issue – I respect that you at least do your OWN research. But quoting Mark means squat. Do you think anyone here actually just changed their mind based on your post repeating his pc bs spin? But I guess they’re facts because Mark just said so? We’re talking about the same Mark, right? And not all of us locals were “being sowed by certain outsiders who saw this as a fundraising opportunity.” Some of us wish we’d had a better voice (I sure did)… but still think it was an unnecessary, money fueled destruction project. AND some would argue there was an unnecessary lawsuit settled just to stop the delay on the Trancas project. Was it really 100k? Cece, so you’re at it again, stirring the pot, hoping for people to argue with online? Zzzzzz. Isn’t there a weekly report card you can scream about septics on? Rhetorical... I’m sure you are! But do yourself a favor and take note above – DO YOUR OWN research. READ the thousands of pages of research (both sides) before you spew your ordure… wait, is that you swimming 50 yards east of the pier on testing days? And those question marks are for punctuation only. I’m going on vacation tomorrow so no transparent (I just talked to Suzanne) responses required. Peace.
Wendi Werner September 24, 2012 at 04:37 AM
The new water quality science will be out soon. Some of us have been listening to the experts and what they say will be very interesting.
Cece Stein September 24, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Marie - you are classic. I'll leave it at that! Have a stellar day!
Vee September 24, 2012 at 11:35 PM
I was there yesterday...I saw at least 5 (maybe more) dead pelicans! Does anyone know why?
Cece Stein September 25, 2012 at 03:48 AM
Vee , I was there today volunteering, along with a few others, unloading part of the 70,000 plants from Growing Solutions in Santa Barbara. No reports of dead Pelicans in the Western Channels Project area, so I am wondering where these dead pelicans were? Were you a credentialed visitor on site and witnessed these dead pelicans at the Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project or outside the project area? Were the deaths reported to Wildlife Services and State Parks? There were however an amazing variety of marine water fowl enjoying the new islands and mud flats. Dozens of Mallards, Egrets, Coots, Herons, Cormorants, Sea Gulls, Pelicans and Pipers were pilfering around the newly dug channels. Seems the wildlife is not going to wait to move in until the project is completed. So, the deaths you are reporting here on PATCH are confusing but definitely important and should be reported to the proper authorities.
Hans Laetz September 25, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Welcome to Patch, Vee, and congrats on your first post.
Cece Stein September 25, 2012 at 03:49 PM
http://www.wildrescue.org/W http://blog.bird-rescue.org/index.php/2009/02/ DRF.html Widespread pelican moralities around the world may be attributed to domoic acid build ups, red tide and starvation has been observed for many years. Causes are still be studied. These deaths have nothing to do with the Lagoon Restoration. As I stated in my last comment, there are no reported pelican deaths on site. There was a recent PATCH article on this subject: http://malibu.patch.com/articles/experts-dont-feed-starving-pelicans Here are two more links: http://www.wildrescue.org/W http://blog.bird-rescue.org/index.php/2009/02/ DRF.html
Andy Lyon September 25, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Hans : "My stance has been unchanged, publicly-stated and reasonable. It likely cost me the election, because of the fear, uncertainty and disinformation being sowed by certain outsiders who saw this as a fundraising opportunity" You never stated that you were pro lagoon project during the campaign, only that it lost in court and that's what really mattered. Same with the sewer. You only stated that you were against deep well injection, not pro sewer. Are you still blaming the need for this project on the Colony septics like you were way before the election ? And let me remind you that you only got 74 more votes than I did and I didn't raise or spend ANY money. Stick to what you know: SMOKING POLES !
Hans Laetz September 25, 2012 at 11:02 PM
I refer you to my election campaign pages, regarding the sewer ( http://www.workingformalibu.com/sewerheads.html ) and the lagoon ( http://www.workingformalibu.com/trancas.html ). At the debates, in my brochures, and everywhere I could I told people that my views were unpopular among -- how shall we put it -- the plaid supporters. I stated over and over again that some sort of water diversion program is mandatory under state law, I said over and over again that an OWTS and collections system -- rather than a centralized sewer -- is smarter. Unlike you, I made concrete proposals. "Smoking poles." Cute Andy, in a seventh grade sort of way.
sean October 03, 2012 at 11:12 PM
The fact is that the Lagoon looks like it will be awesome, and already smells better. Next thing malibu needs to clean up is the locals only racist surfer jock attitude that the rest of the world laughs at. In favor of the project are a group of scientists and biologists. Against the project : Andy - realtor, Wendi - manicurist, Hellwood - Carpet Cleaner, but somehow they know more than all the experts. I will let the project speak for itself.
Cece Stein October 04, 2012 at 12:25 AM
WORD Sean! You nailed that one! The Lagoon is looking amazing and the Opposition will always be bitter - even more so when it's finished because it will be nothing less than spectacular ( and smell better too! ). State Parks ,SMBRF and community supporters were put through the ringer with threats and from the attitudes described above - and for what? Ridding the stagnant dead end zones of bacteria breeding areas which will improve water quality so surfers don't get sick as often and wildlife can have an improved ecosystem with less human intrusion ? Sounds like a win win any way you look at it , especially if you are a Goby , a Mullet , a Steelhead or any of the marine fowl who are already being counted in higher numbers since the project began ! Thanks State Parks and all of the wildlife lovers who invested their educations in improving the world as stewards of the land .
hellwood October 04, 2012 at 12:31 AM
sean, carpet cleaner?? haha! guess again
Cece Stein October 04, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Sean...Hellwood is a bad ass Harsh Carpet ( musician )... no carpet cleaning involved.

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