Dana Point Harbor - Baby Beach

In June 2008, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted indicator bacteria Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for Baby Beach in Dana Point Harbor. The TMDLs require 82.7-96.2% (dependent upon specific indicator bacteria) waste load reductions from the stormdrain system. Dry weather reductions must occur by September 2014 and wet weather reductions must occur by September 2019.

Elevated indicator bacteria concentrations at Baby Beach has been a long standing problem. As a result, the beach has been the focus of many studies and Best Management Practices (BMPs) to identify and prevent sources of indicator bacteria from affecting the beach. Efforts have included studies on stormdrain seepage and groundwater, stormdrain influence and sediment contamination, recreational boat discharges, microbial source tracking, circulation, and video and dye testing of nearby sewers, for reports and studies please see Dana Point Coastal Streams Baby Beach page. BMPs included use of stormdrain plugs, increased street sweeping in surrounding parking lots and roadways, installation of bird netting under the pier, public education efforts against bird-feeding at the beach, artificial circulation of Baby Beach harbor area water, stormdrain diversion to the sanitary sewer, catch basin filter treatment systems, and disposal of bird feces from exposed intertidal areas of the beach.

Baby Beach is nestled in the northwest corner of Dana Point Harbor near the Ocean Institute. Studies have suggested that its sheltered location may contribute to elevated indicator bacteria concentrations due to limited water circulation near the beach.

The Baby Beach indicator bacteria TMDLs were developed in response to the 2002 Clean Water Act Section 303(d) listing of the beach based upon water quality data collected prior to 2002. Monitoring data from January 2002 to December 2006 has shown that concentrations of indicator bacteria have declined significantly. In fact the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted a decision to delist Baby Beach for Focal Coliform Indicator Bacteria as part of the 2008 303(d) listing cycle. This reduction is believed to be attributed to BMPs which have largely eliminated dry weather runoff by diverting it to the sanitary sewer and beach sweeping to remove bird feces from the beach.

Two storm drains discharge directly to the waters at Baby Beach. Dry weather runoff from the west drain is diverted to the sewer system. Wet weather runoff to the west drain is sent through a filtration system before discharging to the harbor. The east drain discharges runoff from a small parking lot that has limited to no flow during dry weather.

As required by the TMDLs, a Bacteria Load Reduction Plan will be developed for Baby Beach outlining existing and future BMPs needed to meet TMDL targets and special studies to identify sources of indicator bacteria in the watershed.