Malibu’s Epic Battle of Surfers Vs. Environmentalists

Local politics take a dramatic turn in southern California over a plan to clean up an iconic American playground

Water and sediment flowing from Malibu Creek and Lagoon impact the waves at Surfrider, especially after winter rains. (Keegan Gibbs)
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Glas, Woods and their allies in the lagoon fight had seen the sewer as the next logical step in rehabilitating the local environment. “The day Stephenie died, we were talking about the lagoon project,” Woods said one afternoon, sitting in his Malibu living room, his green eyes pinched into a permanent squint from four decades of riding waves in the harsh sun. “The opposition had exhausted all legal options. There was nothing they could do now to stop it.” Woods suggested that Glas take a break before turning her attention to the sewer. Within minutes of the conversation, however, she was calling the city council and the state water board for sewer information. Woods urged her to take a rest. “I told her the lagoon issue was draining and exhausting, but that’s nothing compared to what this sewer thing is going to be. It’s a monster like you’ve never seen.”

“We need to clean up the water,” Glas said.


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