Pillar Point Harbor and Venice Beach Bacteria TMDL

Since 2002, beaches in Pillar Point Harbor and Venice Beach near Half Moon Bay have been on the 303(d) list for impairment from elevated levels of indicator bacteria. Poor water quality due to bacteria has persisted over the years and bacteria densities in the waters of the beaches have exceeded the numeric water quality objectives for Enterococcus, which are types of bacteria that indicate the potential for fecal contamination in marine waters. High levels of Enterococcus suggest presence of pathogenic organisms that are found in the waste of humans and warm-blooded animals (e.g., cows, horses, dogs and wildlife). These pathogens pose potential health risks to people who swim in contaminated waters and may also adversely affect marine animals.

map of Pillar Point Harbor showing locations of weekly beach monitoring in 5 locations


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Approval

The U.S. EPA approved the TMDL on February 8, 2022. The TMDL is now fully approved and effective.

Office of Administrative Law Approval

California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved this basin plan amendment on November 15, 2021 (OAL File Number R2-2021-1001-02S).

State Water Board Approval Process

The State Water Board adopted Resolution No. 2021-0026 approving the Basin Plan amendment to establish the Bacteria TMDL and to update the bacteria objectives in the Basin Plan on July 20, 2021. 

State Water Board Meeting Agenda and associated documents:

San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board Adoption Process

The Regional Water Board adopted a resolution approving the Basin Plan amendment for this TMDL on February 10, 2021. Regional Water Board adopted resolution and supporting documents are available below:

Final Regional Board Adopted Documents (February 10, 2021)

TMDL Development Process

Public review documents for a proposed Basin Plan amendment to establish a Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the beaches in Pillar Point Harbor and Venice Beach. The public comment period ended on December 1, 2020.

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Visit our subscription page to sign up to receive future information for the Pillar Point Harbor and Venice Beach bacteria TMDL. Look for the section entitled “All Basin Planning/TMDL Projects by Area” and check the box for “Coastal San Mateo County”. You can sign up for other lists at the same time, if you wish.


For more information contact:
Barbara Baginska
Engineering Geologist