Malibu Surfside News

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dewatering Phase of Malibu Lagoon Project Is Initiated

• City Asks State Parks to Suspend Pumping Operation for Annual Charity Surfing Competition

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

The dewatering phase of State Parks’ Malibu Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement Project was initiated on Monday.
“The contractors are working on refining the outflow [to reduce beach erosion],” State Parks’ Senior Biologist and project spokesperson Suzanne Goode told the Malibu Surfside News, in response to concerns over the volume of water currently being released. “We will be bringing in larger rocks to help dissipate the energy.”
Goode explained that the water being released is brackish. “We are not desalinating, we are chlorinating and then removing the chlorine, but not the salt. It’s eight parts [salt] per 1000,” Goode said.
Goode said that it will take several days of dewatering to lower the water level in the former western channels to the point where bulldozers can begin work.
“Dewatering will be continuous,” Goode said, adding that pumping will continue throughout the construction process to prevent the channels from refilling before work is complete.
“All of us down at Surfrider [Beach] are on pins and needles,” Surfers Coalition representative Monique Kehoe told the Malibu City Council later that day. “The discharge is happening. There are a lot of unhappy surfers. We know there is not much you can do, but the Call to the Wall [invitational charity surf competition] is happening this weekend. We were hoping the dewatering could have been postponed until next week.”
“We were notified at 11 a.m. that dewatering began,” Malibu City Manager Jim Thorsen said.  “We asked that State Parks desist for Call to the Wall. We hope they will respond correctly.”
“It’s a health hazard,” Councilmember Skylar Peak said. “I will personally call L.A County [Department of Beaches and Harbors] and request that they put health hazard signs there. I think it is ridiculous that they haven’t. They have to do it when the creek is open.” Peak added that he is looking forward to competing in the longboard division of the charity event this weekend.
Surfer’s Coalition member Sean Kehoe brought three “Big Gulp” soft drink containers full of what he described as “Lagoon-aid” to the podium, a reference, he said, to offers by lagoon project proponents to drink from the dewatering outflow pipe.
“We would like to see the test results now that they’ve started,” Kehoe said. [Contractor Mark] Abramson, Goode, [State Parks District Superintendent] Craig Sap, they all said they would drink the lagoon aid. We want to make sure results are being posted.
“We are the watchdogs,” Kehoe said. “It looks ok but I’m not a scientist, so I don’t know. I can’t test. I want to make sure we are safe, because we do drink the water. It goes in our noses, in our mouths. Let them put their money where their mouth is. We are all in this together.”
“When I did talk to Craig Sap I asked for preliminary test results so we could post them on our website,” Thorsen said. “Hopefully, maybe tomorrow we will we will get testing results and ask for them on ongoing basis.” Thorsen described the testing company as “a reputable company we have hired in past. They are an excellent firm and do a very good job.”
“We are talking about indemnity,” activist Ryan Embree said.
“If this document was written by the state or if we had a substantive input and if everything we want to say was said. Is this covering only the short time while they pump out pipe or is this enduring if they make such a mess that its going on for years?”
“Under the Clean Water Act, anyone who impairs quality of water is responsible,” City Attorney Christi Hogan said. “Nothing changes that. This indemnification was originally written by us and then negotiated. Indemnity does address issue of city incurring costs defending itself recover costs defending selves if held responsible by water quality problems caused by the project. It’s another tool in our tool box.”
The council voted unanimously to approve an indemnification agreement with State Parks.
Opponents of the project say they will continue to press for ongoing public access to water testing results.

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