A Guide to the South Bay Surf and Action Sports Scene
Trouble in Malibu
Discontent is floating in the line up at Malibu, also known as Surfrider State Beach. A number of ‘Bu locals aren’t too pleased with the Malibu Lagoon Reconstruction and Enhancement Project, which began on June 1st and will continue until this October. The project calls for draining most of the water from the lagoon (over 11,000 gallons), so that construction crews can reshape the actual structure of the lagoon with heavy equipment in order to improve water flow. The lagoon is notorious for having poor water quality—an issue that often plagues local surfers when the lagoon empties out in the lineup—and this $7 million project should clean up the nefariously scuzzy body of water. Well, that’s the plan at least.
There’s a lot of vocal opposition against the project; some feel that it’s just a bit too much: The massive amount of earth being moved (along with the interference caused by heavy construction equipment) could further damage the lagoon’s fragile ecosystem as well as harm Bu’s already “damaged” surf.
The lagoon was constructed in the early 1980s, as part of an ongoing effort to help restore the area’s natural wetlands. However, the artificial channels that were created ended up stifling water flow, and thus trapped ample amounts of run-off from Malibu Creek. Surfline.com quoted Matthew Horn, an aquatic field specialists, as stating that the lagoon, as of this moment, is no longer “sustainable for life”—the earlier project is entirely responsible for this unfortunate issue. Furthermore, by altering the way the creek emptied out in the ocean, the initial 1980s lagoon project altered how sand was deposited along the famous point break, thus changing the way the wave breaks.
The lagoon itself is in dire need of a dramatic resurrection, that much is certain. But will this new project negatively affect the region’s wildlife and Malibu’s surf? Well, that’s tough to say: Organizations like the Surfrider Foundation are adamant in their belief that the project will only positively benefit the health of the lagoon, but few have been able to state conclusively that the project won’t have an adverse effect on the surf.
I’ve had the opportunity to peruse the project’s environmental report, and I can say with a rather strong conviction that the project organizers have done their homework—it looks like they’ve taken every precaution to protect the lagoon’s wildlife. However, the environmental report did not cover anything involving Malibu’s surf, which was unfortunately a bit disconcerting.
The project, which has been in the works for nearly 10 years, could be exactly what the lagoon needs; conversely, it could also be the proverbial nail in the beachside coffin—all we can really do is wait and see what happens.