The Environmental Protection Agency released a draft this month of a plan that seeks to reduce pollution and improve water quality in the Malibu Creek and Lagoon.
The EPA is seeking public comment through Jan. 23 on the draft Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the Malibu Creek and Lagoon, which are on California's list of polluted waters.
The nearly 200-page draft pollution reduction plan for the Malibu Creek and Lagoon seeks to address sedimentation and the impaired benthic community, which includes clams, shellfish and other bottom-dwelling aquatic creatures.
Officials from the California State Parks Angeles District are already reviewing the document, according to Jamie King, an environmental scientist.
"Establishment of TMDLs are a good thing as they protect water quality and associated beneficial uses. Open space areas, such as State Park lands, generally improve water quality from more developed areas upstream due to the lack of development on our properties and the filtering nature of undeveloped and naturally vegetated areas," King said in an email to Malibu Patch.
She added that once the TMDL is completed, State Parks will likely review its facilities and maintenance programs to determine if upgrades are needed.
A meeting on the Malibu Creek and Lagoon TMDL is set for 1:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14 at the EPA Southern California Field Office, 600 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1460, in Los Angeles.
The TMDLs must be completed by March 24, 2013, according to the draft document, which is attached to this article.
The report states that the natural cycle of the Malibu Lagoon has been disrupted in the past, mainly by the manual breaching of a sand berm separating the lagoon from the ocean and an increase in recreation reservoirs, agriculture and the discharge of water into the lagoon year round from the Tapia Water Reclamation Facility and other upstream sources.
The increased water flow has changed the natural salinity and tidal cycles in the lagoon, putting stress on the benthic zone, which includes clams, shellfish and other bottom-dwelling aquatic creatures, according to the document.
The last survey of the aquatic creatures took place from Nov. 8-9, 2010 and May 24-26, 2011, which was before the Malibu Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement Project got underway.
The report also claims that high levels of nitrogen also impact benthic aquatic life in the Malibu Lagoon. The document states:
The City of Malibu does not provide regional sewage collection or treatment, and high water tables decrease the efficiency of onsite wastewater treatment. The Regional Control Board staff estimated that current loads from onsite wastewater disposal in the Civic Center area that constitute direct (non-point source) input of inorganic nitrogen into the Lagoon amount to 30-35 lb/day inorganic nitrogen. Additionally, Malibu Lagoon receives fine sediments associated with greater nutrient loads that can cause algal blooms.
The main source of sediment possibly comes from the Malibou Lake, according to the document. Natural erosion from the Santa Monica Mountains and the period after wildfires may also be a source.
The document states that Tapia does not appear to be a source of the sedimentation. Tapia is prohibited from discharging into the Malibu Creek from April 15 to Nov. 15.
The Malibu Lagoon Project is one of several measures that is included in the report to increase water quality at the lagoon.
The restoratio project removed accumulated sediment and replaced non-native vegetation with 80,000 native plants, which are currently cuttings, but will grow over a several year period.
"As a result, EPA believes that this restoration effort of the lagoon should significantly improve the lagoon conditions for the benthic community by providing improved habitat conditions," the report states.
However, the EPA wrote in the report that additional measures are needed to reduce sources of sediment and other nutrients from upstream.
"EPA strongly recommends that the Regional Water Quality Control Board work with local stakeholders to identify effective and reasonable best management practices to control the watershed source," according to the report.
In addition, the report identifies Assembly Bill (AB) 885, which requires that the State Water Resources Control Board in California develop uniform regulations that force Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS) to treat and dispose wastwater below ground.
Comments on the draft document can be sent to:
Cindy Lin (WTR-2)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Southern California Field Office
600 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1460
Los Angeles, CA 90017
The TMDL is the result of a 1999 legal settlement between EPA and local environmental groups. In the settlement, the EPA committed to approve LA Water Board-developed TMDLs or independently establish TMDLs for a list of water bodies in the Los Angeles Region.
The TMDLs for the Malibu Creek and Lagoon are the final pieces needed for the EPA to comply with the terms of the settlement.