Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

Malibu Lagoon restoration work delayed, but not in question, says California State Parks

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Work on a controversial restoration plan in Malibu Lagoon will not start today as scheduled. Meanwhile protesters gathered along the Pacific Coast Highway in the lagoon's parking lot to raise their doubts about the restoration.

State and regional agencies have long asserted that the Malibu Lagoon is sick with too much bacteria and not enough dissolved oxygen in its waters to support a healthy wetlands ecosystem. They have planned to take the water out of the western part of Malibu Lagoon in order to reshape it. The initial stages of the project call for surveying, putting a fence around the work area, and monitoring or removing sensitive wildlife at the site with the intent of returning them to the lagoon later. A regional manager for California State Parks, Craig Sap, says restoration work will now start on Monday. Sap says Malibu Councilman Skylar Peak asked for the delay so that increased activity at the lagoon doesn’t interfere with an autism charity event that’s been taking place at Surfrider beach for a dozen years. "He said, you know, it would be goodwill for the community," Sap says. 

But Sap turned back the idea that the delay is an admission that the project needs reworking. With any engineering project, he says, there's a range of what 's believed to be acceptable before the project has begun. Tidal flows, temperatures, and other on site information affect tactics, but not the fundamental strategy. Sap says the strategy itself, to drain water and resurface the western part of the lagoon to improve circulation, is sound. 

Surfer Andy Lyon posted a video in which he asserted that opponents successfully showed that the dewatering plan is flawed. A surfers coalition and the Wetlands Defense Fund have been at the lagoon with signs voicing opposition to the project.


(Correction: The name of one of the groups opposing the Malibu Lagoon project is Wetlands Defense Fund, not Wetlands Defense Center.)

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