U.S. EPA awards Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission $345,000

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $345,000 to the State Water Resources Control Board for the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, which will use the funds to implement environmentally significant projects to enhance Santa Monica Bay.

The EPA grant will help finance storm water pollution control, habitat restoration, long-term restoration and pollution control strategies.

"The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission is implementing a comprehensive program to improve water quality and habitats of the bay and its watershed. EPA is pleased to provide these funds, as we know that implementing the Bay Restoration Plan will have a direct and positive impact on the beaches, marine environment, and Bay watersheds," said Alexis Strauss, the EPA's water division director for the Pacific Southwest region.

"The EPA's continued support of our program is essential for much needed environmental improvements. The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission plays a crucial roll in restoring water quality and habitat for all the users of Santa Monica Bay," said Shelley Luce, incoming executive director, Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission.

In 1989, Congress recognized Santa Monica Bay as a "water body of national significance" and established the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project (SMBRP) as one of 28 EPA National Estuary Programs. The Santa Monica Bay National Estuary measures approximately 1,465 square kilometers, and is host to world famous beaches and urban centers, kelp forests, and several endangered species including the Brown sea turtle and California pelican.

An estuary is a partially enclosed body of coastal water formed where rivers and streams flow into the ocean and mix with sea water. Besides serving as important habitat for wildlife, the wetlands that fringe estuaries improve water quality as water flows through fresh and saltwater marshes, it slows down and settles out sediments and pollutants. Wetland plants recycle excess nutrients which leads to cleaner and clearer water for people and marine life.

The State Water Resources Control Board and the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board continue to serve as the lead agencies for state and federal funding of the Commission.

For more information on the EPA's National Estuary Program, visit http://www.epa.gov/owow/estuaries/about1.htm.

For more information on the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Committee, visit http://www.santamonicabay.org/site/home/layout/index.jsp.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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