The Malibu Lagoon is already showing signs of improvement, early data analyzed by the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission shows.
The permit for the Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project expired on March 15, and work is complete with the exception of a shade structure and a water feature.
Shelley Luce, executive director of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation, said she is thrilled with the end result of the project.
"We can already see marked improvements in water flows, as well as better water circulation when the lagoon is closed to the sea, because of the dramatically improved wind fetch created by the new design," Luce said.
Monitoring of the water quality in the Malibu Lagoon occurred throughout the project.
"The entire construction process, from protecting sensitive species to keeping the public informed of progress to getting tens of thousands of new plants in the ground, has gone very, very well," Luce said.
Karina Johnston, a restoration ecologist for the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, said the data shows higher dissolved oxygen levels, lower algae, better circulation and tidal inundation than before the project began.
"There is noticeable improvement," Johnston said.
More monitoring will continue now that the project is wrapping up.
"It’s a long period of monitoring so we will continue to keep monitoring," Johnston said.
Mark Abramson, Senior Watershed Advisor for the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation, said the reports will be released when they are finalized. He did not provide a time frame.
Andy Lyon, who surfs at Surfrider Beach in Malibu and visits the lagoon often, said he remains skeptical about the project, pointing to returning sediment in the back channels.
"It’s not getting any more circulation. There is so little circulation of water out there," Lyon said of his observations.
He said he is concerned about what he sees as a lack of growth in the native plants reintroduced to the Malibu Lagoon during the project.
"They’re going to say it looks great," Lyon said. "Why are they putting in hydroseed at the last minute and watering? It’s going to take years for that thing for it to look even as lame as the Legacy Park."
According to Craig Sap, Superintendent for California State Parks Angeles District, seaweed has been showing up in the back areas of the Malibu Lagoon, showing better circulation.
Sap, who came forward to become the public face of the project, said he learned many lessons from the restoration project, which he understands will be under scrutiny for the next few years.
He signed off on documents showing that the project is substantially completed late last week.
Luce said 2,000 volunteer hours went into the project since it began in June.
"We very much look forward to celebrating the success at Malibu lagoon and to carrying on that success in future restoration projects," Luce said. "The people and wildlife of California deserve healthy coastal habitats and indeed we require them if we are to thrive for generations to come. I hope that our experiences at Malibu and ongoing monitoring here will inform and shape new wetlands projects elsewhere."