malibu-lagoon - lagoon

Malibu Lagoon Restoration

Enhancing water quality and restoring habitat conditions at Malibu Lagoon.

Development of the Malibu Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement Project

Malibu Lagoon is a 31-acre shallow water estuary occurring at the terminus of the Malibu Creek Watershed, the second largest watershed draining into Santa Monica Bay. The lagoon is fed by fresh water from Malibu Creek and other sources. Periodically the lagoon breaches, cutting through the berm, opening the lagoon to ocean water from the Pacific Ocean over Malibu Surfrider Beach. The beach was dedicated as the first World Surfing Reserve in 2010. This popular spot attracts approximately 1.5 million visitors a year.

Malibu Lagoon was historically labelled an “impaired” water body by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Lagoon was filled in by excess sediment and suffered from low dissolved oxygen levels within the channels that threatened fish and wildlife. The Malibu Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement Project was implemented by California State Department of Parks and Recreation, California State Coastal Conservancy (SCC), Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains (RCDSMM), The Bay Foundation (TBF), Heal the Bay, and supported by many others.

Project Highlights

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Post-Restoration Successes

TBF and our partners conduct post-restoration Lagoon monitoring, which provides valuable data for tracking restoration success criteria and for regional comparisons. Post-restoration data indicates several clear trends since 2013, including better circulation patterns in both open and closed berm conditions, healthier habitats, and improved water quality. Several rare species have returned to the lagoon and beach since restoration, such as the California least tern and steelhead trout.

Why Was Restoring Malibu Lagoon So Crucial?

The restoration plan for Malibu Lagoon evolved over a nearly 20-year time frame with extensive input from the public, coastal wetland experts, biologists, and responsible agencies. The project involved excavation of 12 acres in the western half of the Lagoon and the subsequent planting of thousands of native wetland plants. The restoration team removed contaminated soil and decades of built-up trash, and re-contoured the channels to improve water flows and circulation. Construction began on June 1, 2012, and was completed on March 31, 2013.

Post-Restoration Successes

TBF and our partners conduct post-restoration Lagoon monitoring, which provides valuable data for tracking restoration success criteria and for regional comparisons. Post-restoration data indicates several clear trends since 2013, including better circulation patterns in both open and closed berm conditions, healthier habitats, and improved water quality. Several rare species have returned to the lagoon and beach since restoration, such as the California least tern and steelhead trout.

Why Was Restoring Malibu Lagoon So Crucial?

The restoration plan for Malibu Lagoon evolved over a nearly 20-year time frame with extensive input from the public, coastal wetland experts, biologists, and responsible agencies. The project involved excavation of 12 acres in the western half of the Lagoon and the subsequent planting of thousands of native wetland plants. The restoration team removed contaminated soil and decades of built-up trash, and re-contoured the channels to improve water flows and circulation. Construction began on June 1, 2012, and was completed on March 31, 2013.

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