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Monarch Beach received poor grades for its water quality, due in part to environmental contamination at its runoff point. Photo: Matt Cortina
Monarch Beach received poor grades for its water quality, due in part to environmental contamination at its runoff point. Photo: Matt Cortina

By Kristina Pritchett

City Council approved a resolution that would allow the county to bring in a falconer at Monarch Beach to aid with the bird population near Salt Creek Outfall on Tuesday.

The resolution comes after a nonprofit environmental organization listed the area as a “beach bummer” last month. It will allow the county to bring in the falconer who has successfully managed the bird population at San Clemente’s Poche Beach and the county landfill.

In June, Heal the Bay listed the beach as “bummer” due to the lower water quality that was tested. The city stated the lower results were due to the testing site being moved and the amount of birds that flock to the area.

The site is home to the Salt Creek Ozone Treatment Facility that treats dry weather runoff. The facility treats the water before it returns it to the ocean, but before it hits the ocean the water hits the scour pond. The scour pond is where the testing is now being done, where previously it was done 25 yards out.

The city has been working with Amec Foster Wheeler Environment & Infrastructure, Inc. to determine the cause of the recent exceedances. According to the city, Amec has advised that the cause is the bird population on the beach.

“So, although the water has been thoroughly treated with ozone at the facility at the beach’s edge, as the creek crosses the beach, a pond forms before it reaches the ocean,” the staff report states.

Previously, the city has stated they would look for ways to improve the issue, but at the time they didn’t have a plan in place.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, the Council approved the item during consent calendar.

The city states the use of the falconer is a friendly approach to addressing the numerous birds “that pose a menace to obtaining positive state water quality testing results.”

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