April 7, 2020

Malibu Lagoon Report Shows Success


Former ‘Dead Zone’ is now a healthier system bringing a wetland back to life.

The Bay Foundation has just released the “Malibu Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement Project Comprehensive Monitoring Report (Year 2)”, the first report to fully compare and evaluate pre-restoration conditions to two years of post-restoration conditions. The project is a potential test case for giving life back to a local wetland.

Based on the first two years of a five-year monitoring program, the Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project shows that it is on track to meet or exceed the documented criteria for success. The Project’s core goals included improving the ecological health of the lagoon’s system by enhancing habitats for native wildlife, creating several acres of new wetlands, and increasing tidal flushing and water circulation to improve water quality and eliminate the “dead zones” and oxygen-deprived areas.

Prior to the restoration, the 31-acre Malibu Lagoon was on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency list of impaired water bodies for more than a decade due to excess nutrients and low oxygen levels. Without oxygen, aquatic life cannot breathe, so very little was able to live in some parts of the lagoon.

Additionally, sediment slowly continued to deposit, choking out the remaining wetland habitats. The lagoon lies at the end of the Malibu Creek Watershed, the second largest watershed draining into Santa Monica Bay. It receives year-round fresh water from sources upstream and is periodically open to the ocean via a temporary stream that cuts through the sandbar, breaching the estuary.

“This restoration project in the western portion of the lagoon reconfigured the channels and removed tons of contaminated debris and mud,” states Dr. John Dorsey, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science at Loyola Marymount University.

“In just a relatively short time, we’re seeing a healthier group of invertebrates, many needing good water quality to flourish, as well as a nursery habitat for juvenile fish. I expect plants and animals living in the channels and along the banks to become even more diverse as these habitats continue to mature,” he said.

For more information: www.parks.ca.gov ; jdubrow@santamonicabay.org; (213) 576-6641; Dennis.Weber@parks.ca.gov; parks.ca.gov;(916) 651-8724.