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EPA Finalizes Water Quality Plans for Malibu Creek Pollution

Release Date: 3/24/2003
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

     The U.S. Environmental Protection agency on Friday finalized water quality plans for Malibu Lagoon, Malibu Creek and several tributary streams in an effort to reduce excess algae growth and bacterial contamination.

     The plans, known as total maximum daily loads -- or TMDLs -- will help protect swimming, recreation and fish habitat in the lagoon and creek.

     "We need aggressive action to reduce nutrient and bacteria discharges to Malibu Creek and Lagoon," said Catherine Kuhlman, Acting Water Division Director for the U.S. EPA's Pacific Southwest Region.  "These plans will help target the most important pollution sources and accelerate the restoration of this unique watershed."

     The TMDLs specify the reductions in nitrogen and phosphorus necessary to reduce excessive algae growth that impairs recreation use and aquatic habitat in Malibu Creek and Lagoon. The TMDLs also specify reductions in bacteria necessary to protect swimmers from gastrointestinal illnesses.

     The U.S. EPA worked with the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board to establish the TMDL plans to meet a schedule established in a consent decree between the EPA and Los Angeles-area environmental groups.

     The regional board is now responsible for developing specific plans for implementing the TMDLs and is also considering updating the nutrient TMDLs in the future based on several studies that are currently underway in Malibu Creek watershed.

     Nitrogen and phosphorus discharges from septic tanks, a wastewater treatment plant, urban runoff, runoff from livestock facilities and golf courses have contributed to excessive algae growth that impairs recreational uses and aquatic habitat. Bacteria discharges from urban runoff, animals, and septic tanks have resulted in elevated bacteria levels that may cause illnesses in swimmers.

     To implement the TMDLs additional pollution controls will be needed to reduce  polluted runoff from urban areas and livestock facilities, septic tank discharges that reach surface waters and wastewater treatment plant nutrient discharges.

     The EPA and the regional board held several informal public meetings in 2002 to discuss the plan with interested members of the public and received many comments that were considered in the final TMDL decisions.