Pismo Beach's water quality improves after efforts to curb pigeons

dsneed@thetribunenews.comMay 28, 2013 

A pigeon perches on the Pismo Pier.

NICHLAUS HULSEBUS — The Tribune Buy Photo

Efforts to control the number of pigeons roosting on the Pismo Beach pier appear to be working.

This year’s beach report card from Heal the Bay gives the beach just south of the pier all As. In years past, the beach has gotten failing grades because of high bacteria levels.

A study done by Cal Poly in 2010 concluded that pigeon droppings were the main source of high fecal levels in the water. City officials responded by installing blocks in the niches where the pigeons roosted.

“Since the study, the city of Pismo Beach has worked diligently to reduce the roosting pigeon population from the pier which has significantly reduced the number of failed ocean water samples and posted beach health advisories at this location,” said Richard Lichtenfels, with the San Luis Obispo County Health Agency. “This is certainly good news, and we applaud the city's efforts to make a difference in protecting public health.”

The beach with the lowest grades was Olde Port Beach in Port San Luis. The beach received C grades during dry weather. This most likely is because of the large numbers of dogs that people bring onto the beach, Lichtenfels said.

Bacterial pollution often spikes after a rainstorm because creeks wash pollution into the ocean. The report gave low grades to three beaches affected by wet-weather runoff. These were two locations in Avila Beach and at Cayucos State Beach between the creek and the pier.

There were two sewage spills in San Luis Obispo County that resulted in beach closures in 2012. The first was a spill of about 600 gallons on July 24, which resulted in the precautionary closure of Shell Beach for 24 hours. The second spill was about 1,000 gallons on Oct. 26, due to a blockage that resulted in ocean water closure of Port San Luis and Avila Beach for two days, the report said.

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