Heal the Bay Blog

Author: Heal the Bay

Heal the Bay is proud to announce that our volunteer program can officially endow Presidential Volunteer Service Awards!

We are excited to take part in this nationwide program to honor and recognize our most outstanding volunteers.  


What is the Presidential Volunteer Service Award?

Over the past 20 years, the PVSA has been dedicated to recognizing the significant impact made by volunteers in communities all around the country.

“In 2003, the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation founded the President’s Volunteer Service Award to recognize the important role of volunteers in America’s strength and national identity. This award honors individuals whose service positively impacts communities in every corner of the nation and inspires those around them to take action, too.”  –The President’s Volunteer Service Award (

Led by the AmeriCorps and managed in partnership with Points of Light, this program allows Certifying Organizations to recognize their most exceptional volunteers.

Beginning this 2024 Winter Season, Heal the Bay volunteers will be able to apply for a PVSA at the start of every year. These applications will summarize hours completed in the previous calendar year, e.g., applications submitted in January 2024 will cover hours completed throughout 2023.  

Ready to apply for your Presidential Award?

Volunteer Eligibility: 

  • United States citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States (i.e., green card holder) 
  • Must be at least eleven years old 
  • Completes eligible service within a 12-month period (for annual Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards) and over a lifetime (for Lifetime Achievement Awards) 

Eligible Service: 

  • Unpaid acts of volunteer service benefitting others 
  • Service through National service programs that provide a stipend (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) may count towards the Lifetime Achievement Award, but not for the annual Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards) 
  • Travel stipends, transit/parking passes, membership passes, expense reimbursements, and other nominal volunteer support do not impact service eligibility 
  • Please Note: At this time, only volunteer hours completed within Heal the Bay programs are eligible to be certified.  

Service hours vs Award Distinction


How to apply:  

  1. Complete Heal the Bay PVSA applications. Applications will open from January 15 – February 28 of the current year. Apply Here 
  1. Applications will be reviewed on March 1, of the current year (March 1, 2024). 
  1. Presidential Volunteer Service Awards will be confirmed by the end of March of a given year.


Thank You for All That You Do! 

Reflecting on a Year of Progress

Heal the Bay achieved significant accomplishments in 2023 in safeguarding our waters, preserving biodiversity, and raising awareness about the importance of environmental conservation.   Through our collective efforts and with your unwavering support, we worked tirelessly to create cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable coastal waters and watersheds for Los Angeles and beyond from summit to sea. As we reflect on the achievements of this past year, we are thrilled to carry this momentum into the coming year, always aiming to make a lasting difference. Celebrate them with us!  

2023 Highlights   

Our expertise was sought after, and our work was celebrated.  

In 2023, Heal the Bay was honored for decades of commitment to the environment. 

  • The City of Los Angeles officially declared October 20, 2023 “Heal the Bay Day in LA” in recognition of nearly four decades of accomplishments including the 20th anniversary of our Angler Outreach Program as well as our Aquarium.    
  • The 3rd Annual Heal the Bay One Water symposium was convened at Will Rogers State Beach, establishing Heal the Bay as a thought leader among civil engineers, water conservation experts, and local, county, and state legislators.  
  • Heal the Bay was officially appointed to the LA 28 Environmental Sustainability Committee for the 2028 Summer Olympics. 


The future of our planet starts with better environmental policy. 

Heal the Bay played a pivotal role in successfully advancing policies and legislation for the benefit of water quality, affordability, and coastal ecosystems to ensure a more sustainable Los Angeles region and climate-resilient California.    

  • Heal the Bay, co-sponsored Assembly Bill 1572 (Friedman) alongside the NRDC and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District. This new law bans the use of drinking water to irrigate non-functional (purely ornamental) turf on governmental and commercial landscapes; and is expected to save the equivalent amount of water that 780,000 households use in a year.  
  • Heal the Bay advocated for water quality protection at the Boeing Santa Susana Field Laboratory site in Simi Valley. The Los Angeles Regional Water Board voted in October to keep regulations on surface water that flows from this previous industrial site, keeping stringent water quality limits, adding more monitoring, and addressing the potential for surface water pollution to impact groundwater, a huge win in the ongoing battle for water quality protection. 
  • Our policy team worked to legally strengthen and streamline fishing regulations to make fishery enforcement more equitable through Assembly Bill 1611 (Lowenthal). This new Heal the Bay sponsored law was supported by conservationists and fishery regulatory agencies alike as a win-win for both nature and the fishing community.   
  • Heal the Bay co-authored a new (and well-received) Vision 2045 Report and shared it with LA County decision-makers who are tasked with overseeing the ambitious Safe, Clean, Water Program (SCWP). This collaborative “vision” laid out a roadmap of bolder goals, and recommendations to more quickly and definitively reach 2045 SCWP targets.   


It Takes a Very Large Village.    

This year Heal the Bay published its first Volunteer Impact Report highlighting the accomplishments of our 22,017 volunteers from the 2022 season, which paved the way for the many volunteer successes of 2023. 

  • In 2023, Heal the Bay volunteers collected more than 22,000 pounds of trash and contributing 71,048 hours to protecting our precious watershed and coastal waters!  
  • In September, Heal the Bay mobilized 7,337 volunteers on Coastal Cleanup Day, removing 16,211 pounds of trash (including 429 pounds of recyclables) from greater Los Angeles coastlines and waterways. 


Sticking a Fork in Plastic at the Source  

Recognizing the urgent need to combat plastic pollution, Heal the Bay continues impactful campaigns encouraging individuals and businesses to adopt sustainable practices.  For several years, staff has been working with LA City and County to help create legislation aiming to break the harmful plastic cycle.   By advocating for reducing single-use plastics and promoting responsible waste management, we took significant steps toward a plastic-free future.    

  • Our “No Bag November” campaign reaffirmed Heal the Bay’s commitment to a plastic-free Los Angeles.  Through partnerships and community activations, No Bag November urged Angelenos to say “no” to single-use plastic bags and encouraged everyone to grab their reusable bags instead.  
  • In 2023, the implementation of THREE new laws made big waves for the environment as a means to reduce plastic in our oceans.    
  • As a leader in the Reusable LA Coalition, we co-launched the “Hold the Plastic, please, campaign to educate businesses and the public about LA City and County plastic bans that Heal the Bay and partners advocated to pass. 


Environmental Health IS Public Health 

In 2023, Heal the Bay continued its relentless commitment to ocean water and freshwater quality from summit to sea.   

  • Since its launch in 2003, Heal the Bay’s Angler Outreach Program (in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency) has educated more than 190,000 anglers about which fish are contaminated, and which are safer to eat.  
  • Our annual Beach Report Card released this year remains the gold standard, providing access to the latest water quality information based on levels of fecal-indicator bacterial pollution in the ocean at over 700 beaches. For more than 30 years, our annual report has assigned “A-to-F” letter grades and ranked the “Best and Bummer” lists across beaches from Washington State to Tijuana, Mexico.  
  • The 5th annual River Report Card was also released, ranking freshwater quality and providing grades for 35 freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County tested during the summer of 2022.  This summer we debuted our upgraded River Report Card with an intuitive letter grading system and celebrated the achievements of our 2023 Summer Stream Team. These two programs are at the forefront of our efforts to keep LA’s waters safe and enjoyable for all.  


Conservation and Marine Protection Are Key to Our Mission

Heal the Bay reaffirmed its commitment to biodiversity through both volunteer activations and the tireless efforts of our husbandry, operations, and education Aquarium teams. 

  • Heal the Bay Aquarium plays a pivotal role in species conservation through research, breeding programs, and public awareness campaigns. In 2023, sixteen fish, three swell sharks, and dozens of moon jellies were born at the Aquarium; and our animal care team released five species of protected and rehabilitated marine life including a keystone species, the California Sheephead fish, and a critically endangered Giant Spotted Bass into the Santa Monica Bay. By releasing these animals back into the wild, Heal the Bay continues its mission to protect and support the biodiversity of wild fish populations. 
  • As part of our collective commitment to successful conservation efforts, Heal the Bay Aquarium officially joined the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Wildlife Trafficking Alliance.  As an official member of US Fish & Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Confiscation Network pilot program, the aquarium is certified to care for the well-being of wildlife confiscated from illegal trade.   
  • Heal the Bay’s Science and Policy Team successfully advocated for state funding to research DDT in 2022-23 and is now working as part of a coalition to lead public meetings and educate Californias on the impacts of DDT on public health and biodiversity. 
  • As a watchdog for Marine Protected Areas, Heal the Bay’s MPA Team is actively contributing and analyzing critical data on California’s first decade-long review that began in 2023. One of the biggest conclusions of the review highlighted the fact that protecting these precious estuaries for the past decade has worked, allowing for flourishing biodiversity, larger populations, and bigger individual animals in these safeguarded areas. 

Environmental Justice is a pillar of environmental health.    

This year Heal the Bay stood up to big oil and continued to advocate for communities that experience the worst systemic and often immediate impacts of environmental injustice and climate change.  

  • For decades Heal the Bay has advocated alongside organizations like Stand Together Against Neighborhood Drilling to oppose oil drilling in Los Angeles neighborhoods, a practice long seen as an environmental injustice and a public health crisis. In October of 2023, the LA County Regional Planning Commission voted in support of phasing out oil drilling in the Inglewood Oil Field, one of the largest neighborhood oil fields in the country 
  • In 2023 Heal the Bay publicly endorsed the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California and will work alongside public health groups, community and faith organizations, and environmental justice leaders from across California to “KEEP THE LAW” (SB 1137) on the November 2024 ballot. This law prohibits new oil wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, day care centers, parks, healthcare facilities, and businesses. 


Environmental Education, Outreach and Sharing our Passion to Protect What We Love  

Education remained a cornerstone of our mission.  In 2023, Heal the Bay expanded our outreach program, teaching schools and communities to understand the importance of environmental conservation and the role each individual can play.  

  • Through innovative approaches and interactive science-based programs, educational efforts continued to inspire and inform diverse audiences.  The Heal the Bay Aquarium field trip program sponsored 10,285 students from 22 school districts in LA County— 79% were Title 1 schools.   
  • This year, “Coastal Cleanup Education Day” at the Aquarium hosted more than 250 3rd-5th grade students from across Los Angeles County for a day of beach exploration, scientific excursions, pollution education, and hands on learning while having some fun in the sun.  


Cheers to 2023 

 As we look back on 2023, Heal the Bay celebrates a year of accomplishments, resilience, and collaboration. These achievements underscore the collective efforts of our dedicated team, volunteers, and supporters who made a positive impact on the health of our oceans and coastal ecosystems.   

Here’s to a future filled with even greater strides toward a sustainable and thriving planet!    

Looking to the Future with 2024 in our sights 

In 2024, Heal the Bay will enter a bold five-year strategic plan with a focus on protecting and restoring the Los Angeles environment and water. The plan aims to improve water quality, increase access to clean water, and advocate for policies that benefit the environment. We have outlined specific goals and initiatives, such as reducing plastic pollution, restoring wetlands, and engaging communities in environmental education and action.   

Thank you for all our supporters both past and present.


Want to support our work for years to come? There is still time to make your big impact for Heal the Bay with Year End Giving. Give a gift for good to protect our precious watershed and help keep our coastal waters safe and clean all year round. Whether it be Corporate and Foundation GivingPartnershipsStock DonationsDonor Advised FundsEstate PlansDonations and Sponsorship Opportunities, you can make a lasting impact with your year-end contribution today. Contact Us.

As we head into a new year, we’re reflecting on the debut of our upgraded River Report Card (RRC) with an intuitive letter grading system, and celebrating the achievements of our 2023 Summer Stream Team. These two programs are at the forefront of our efforts to keep LA’s waters safe and enjoyable for all.

A Fresh Look for RRC

Gone are the days of the color-coded rating system; welcome to the era of letter grades (A, B, C, D, and F) in the River Report Card! This change mirrors our successful Beach Report Card (BRC) format, offering a clear and consistent way to understand water quality risks based on the latest science and water quality regulations. It’s more than just a visual upgrade­­–– it’s about making health risks in our rivers and streams more accessible and understandable to the public.

The Summer Stream Team: Our Water Quality Champions

Every summer, we hire a group of passionate students to monitor, analyze, and report on the water quality of our local rivers from Malibu Creek State Park to the Upper and Lower Los Angeles River. This year, our team of 12 college students from Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC), California State University Long Beach (CSULB) and LA (CSULA), and Long Beach City College (LBCC) embarked on a 15-week mission, bringing new insights and enthusiasm to the task.

Voices from the Field

Our Stream Team members share their experiences, offering a glimpse into the world of environmental stewardship.

Leslie Ma, CSULB: “Some things I learned from the sampling season included field experience, water quality analysis, and data management. The most interesting finding was how vital the LA River is to the neighboring communities and the many animals that depend on the water.”

Ellie Garcia, LATTC: “The most interesting finding during the season was learning about the variation in bacteria depending on the site and location and how the results from our sampling season could make such an impactful discovery.”

David Martinez, LATTC: “The most interesting finding is that even though a site might look clean that might not be the case, so it is important to check the RRC before visiting a freshwater recreational site.”

Alejandra Miranda and Amy Flores from CSULA test water at the Heal the Bay lab (left), Thais Arata from CSULA collects a water sample from Las Virgenes Creek in Malibu Creek State Park (right)

Stream Team Favorites

Our Summer Stream Team members share their favorite aspects and locations along the LA River. Their responses highlight the diversity and beauty of the river’s ecosystems:

Ellie Garcia, LATTC: “My favorite part of the LA River was the Upper Elysian Valley Recreation Zone site because of the animals it attracts, especially the birds, which we can document as part of our field data information.”

David Martinez, LATTC: “The LA River at Benedict St. in Frogtown was my favorite as it has a beautiful insight and was the cleanest.”

Blaire Edwards, LATTC: “My favorite thing about the LA River is that it is so long and flows south and east through various cities in LA County, bringing so many people and animal life together.”

Vina Matias, John Hauser and Gisselle Ponce from LBCC sample water at Riverfront Park in Maywood, CA

Envisioning the Future of the LA River

When asked about their ideal vision for the LA River, our team’s responses painted pictures of hope and rejuvenation:

Leslie Ma, CSULB: “The ideal conditions for the LA River would be a steady flow within the water confluence. Birds should fly around to feed, and I would expect the water to be transparent and clean since it flows directly to our oceans.”

Blaire Edwards, LATTC: “The ideal conditions will be that the LA River undergoes a giant project to clean up the trash that has become stuck in the islands in the river and permanently close all storm drains that dump into the river and just let the river grow naturally. Hopefully, more wildlife can thrive like the native fish species like trout and turtles.”

Examples of poor water conditions (left and right), vegetation and concrete of the LA River (center)

Another Successful Stream Team Season

The upgraded RRC and our Summer Stream Team’s dedicated efforts represent Heal the Bay’s ongoing commitment to community health and environmental stewardship. These efforts not only make our water quality data more accessible but also empower the next generation of environmental advocates and leaders. Thank you again to our brilliant student team: Zaria Alam, Leslie Ma, Gisselle Ponce, John Rae Hauser, Vina Rose Matias, Alejandra Miranda, Thais Arata, Amy Flores, Sun Chowdhury, Eliana Garcia, David Martinez Ramirez, Lyanne Fernandez, and Blaire Edwards.

We invite you to check out the new River Report Card at and join us in celebrating the incredible work of our Summer Stream Team. Although the River Report Card is only updated during the summer, checking it now provides information on previous water quality grades and why it is essential to understand the health of our freshwater ecosystems. New information will become available in June 2024, so stay tuned!

Together, let’s continue to make informed decisions for safe water recreation and protect the health of our beloved waterways.

Members of the Stream Team at Malibu Creek: Alejandra Miranda, Thais Arata, Amy Flores from CSULA, and Blaire Edwards from LATTC.

Holiday shopping doesn’t need to be stressful (or unsustainable!). The staff at Heal the Bay are here to help you find unique, sustainable, & local gift ideas for everyone on your list. Check out the guide below, curated by members of the Heal the Bay team!

For the plastic-free lifestyle. This gift is perfect for those looking to ditch plastic, prevent food waste, and save money. It has been a game changer in my kitchen and is great for anyone who cooks for one (or two) at home. - Nancy, Senior Watershed Specialist Food Huggers $16.99, available at The IceFlow Flip Straw Tumbler, Stanley $35, available at A sturdy, reusable bottle is a must-have for your eco-conscious loved ones. Stanley is an iconic brand that offers a huge variety of sizes, styles, and colors that are sure to please anyone on your list. - Sheila, Associate Director of Development

Food Huggers

The Iceflow Flip Straw Tumbler, Stanley

For the upcycled interior decorator. For the upcycled interior decorator hand-made drink accessories available at Got a whiskey or wine lover on your gift list? Check out the hand-crafted bottle openers, coasters, wine glass caddies, and other unique gifts upcycled from authentic whiskey and wine barrels, made by the SoCal-based Stave and Vine. - Stephanie, Beach Programs Manager hand-turned wood bowls available at These expertly hand-turned wood bowls are made out of repurposed and reclaimed wood and are a beautiful accent or centerpiece. - Stephanie, Beach Programs Manager

Upcycled Drink Accessories, Stave and Vine

Hand-Turned Wooden Bowls, King Wood Designs

For the small-batch candle lover. For the small-batch candle lover Prepare to be transported to far-off magical lands with Mythologie Candles' unique selection of fantasy-inspired scents! Their eco-friendly candles are perfect for anyone in your life who loves a bit of whimsy or is simply addicted to scented candles like I am. Plus, your purchase supports a woman-owned small business. - Ava, Watershed Program Coordinator Mythologie Candles starting at $25, available at Flor de Nopal Candle $32, available at Located in East Los Angeles, Earthy Corazon is a Latina-owned business offering products ranging from candles to body care (I love their body butters!) that are made with locally sourced ingredients and inspired by nature. Their Flor de Nopal scent is fresh and grounding and is inspired by cactus flowers. - Kayleigh, Senior Manager of Outreach

Flor de Nopal Candle, Earthy Corazon

Mythologie Candles

For the sustainable early bird Unitea Teapot, Kinto $30, available at re_grocery re_grocery is a package-free grocery store with three locations in LA. Pair this sleek, simple teapot with one of their many loose-leaf teas, all the makings of a zero-waste gift set for the tea lover in your life. - Annelisa, Associate Director of Science and Policy seasonal baked goods available at Proof Bakery Co-Op Proof Bakery in Atwater Village bakes some of the most delicious pastries in all of Los Angeles. Proof is an equitable, worker-owned cooperative. Stop in and grab some of their seasonal treats for your loved ones this holiday season! - Cameron, Senior Communications Coordinator

Unitea Teapot Kinto, re_grocery

Seasonal Baked Goods, Proof Bakery

For the eco-friendly kid (or kid at heart), Umvvelt is a SoCal designer who makes great ocean-inspired apparel and pins. I love these pieces because I wear them weekly as I share ocean inspiration with aquarium visitors! - Cat, Public Programs Coordinator Umvvelt Dumbo Octopus Bucket Hat $35, available at Meemzy Magic sensory kits provide children the opportunity to actively use their senses during play. The kits are made with bamboo, wood, and all-natural materials. - Stephanie, Beach Programs Manager Meemzy Magic eco-friendly sensory kits $49, available at

Eco-Friendly Sensory Kits, Meemzy Magic

Dumbo Octopus Bucket Hat, Umvvelt

For the conscious trendsetter. Tower 28 Beauty starting at $24, available at Named for LA Lifeguard Tower 28, this skin care and makeup brand goes beyond sustainability. Environmental impact is at the core of every decision and product. SOS Rescue Spray is a must gift and self purchase! - John, VP Development Grey Fossilized Coral Ring $160, available at KARLITA DESIGNS is a Latina-owned small business based in Los Angeles. This stunning, hypo-allergenic ring features Grey Fossilized Coral. - Alison, Director of Communications

Grey Fossilized Coral Ring, KARLITA DESIGNS

SOS Skincare, Tower 28 Beauty

For the urban enthusiast. A Book About LA available in-store or online at “Skylight Books is an independent bookstore that offers a massive range of both popular and rare titles, including a large selection of books about LA! I recommend The History of Forgetting: Los Angeles and the Erasure of Memory by Norman Klein.” - Cameron W., Senior Communications Coordinator Ridwell Membership starting at $14, available at “Ridwell offers a subscription-based service for hard-to-recycle items. You bag them; they pick them up. Makes for a a great eco-conscious family or corporate gift.” - John S., VP Development

The History of Forgetting: Los Angeles and the Erasure of Memory by Norman Klein, Skylight Books

Ridwell Membership


*The items and brands on this list are not endorsed by Heal the Bay.


Not every great gift needs a bow. Heal the Bay has no-wrapping-required gift options for you!

For the future marine scientist in your life: Gift Heal the Bay Aquarium Winter Science Camp, perfect for kids from kindergarten to 5th grade, our Winter Sessions are open from January 2 to January 5, 2024.

For the impossible-to-shop-for Secret Santa Recipient: Give a Heal the Bay Gift card, good to use on all items in the shop, at Heal the Bay ticket events, and visits to the Heal the Bay Aquarium.

For the Animal Activist on your Gift List: Gift a Heal the Bay Aquarium Membership which includes unlimited free visits, exclusive member benefits, and valuable discounts.

Heal the Bay, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Los Angeles Waterkeeper have worked together to develop a “Vision 2045” report with bolder goals and recommendations for the County’s Safe, Clean Water Program.


Ladera Park is one of many successful greening projects funded by the Safe, Clean Water Program, but Los Angeles needs more stormwater projects to prepare our region for its future water needs. (Photo by Heal the Bay) 

In 2018, Los Angeles County residents passed a landmark funding measure (Measure W), which imposed a parcel tax on impervious surfaces to fund stormwater projects to increase local water supply, improve water quality, and provide community benefits through the Safe, Clean Water Program (SCWP). With an annual budget of approximately $280 million, the SCWP has the potential to transform how Los Angeles County manages stormwater, prioritizing climate resilience and community health and well-being.

The SCWP is currently undergoing its first official assessment through the County’s Biennial Review process, offering an opportunity to assess progress, reflect on the achievement of goals, set targets, and make recommendations.   Numerous water quality deadlines have passed in an environment that is becoming hotter and less hospitable and frontline communities are bearing the brunt of those impacts. Therefore, despite numerous successes in its first four years, it has become evident that to meet future ambitions, a clear and realistic roadmap is required.   It is now clear that the SCWP must be even bolder in its goals, targets, and timelines to accelerate the equitable transformation of LA County to greener, more local water self-sufficient and climate-prepared communities. 

That is why Heal the Bay, along with our partners at Natural Resources Defense Council and LA Waterkeeper, representing three of the LA region’s leading water advocacy organizations, shared a new report with LA County decision-makers tasked with overseeing the ambitious SCWP.

Vision 2045: Thriving in a Hotter and Drier LA County through Local Stormwater Capture and Pollutant Reduction includes bolder goals, targets, and recommendations for the SCWP on water supply, water quality, equity, science, finance, and policy.  The report is intended to catalyze County efforts to ensure the Safe, Clean Water Program reaches its goals more quickly and definitively. The timing of the release of this document corresponds with the December 7th meeting of the Regional Oversight Committee on the Biennial Review as well as this week’s LA County Board of Supervisors approval of the LA County Water Plan that builds on their goal of 80% local water supplies by 2045.

Make The Most of Every Drop of Rain 

With climate change accelerating, one of the most cost-effective ways to ensure Angelenos will continue to have the water they need to thrive in the decades to come is to make the most of every drop of rain that falls. The groups that drafted this vision document note there is a real urgency to ensure the Safe, Clean Water Program is implemented in a way that is both effective and equitable. Among other goals, it calls for a target of an additional 300,000 acre-feet of stormwater to be captured and put to use every year by 2045. The document also calls on the county to aggressively reduce water pollution by complying with state deadlines, and ensure that at least 10% of projects in disadvantaged communities that are funded through the program are led by community-based organizations, to ensure robust community involvement.

Nature-Based Solutions 

The vision document also proposes a target of replacing 12,000 acres of impermeable surfaces with new green space by 2045: a nature-based solution that provides recreation, open space, public health benefits, and more. It calls for all schools located within the boundaries of state-defined disadvantaged communities to become green schools by 2030, with all LA County schools meeting that target no later than 2045. Vision 2045 also sets a target of developing an outreach plan to actively engage local tribes in program implementation by the end of next year.

Yes, 2045 is more than twenty years in the future and unforeseeable changes are ahead economically, environmentally, and politically (for better or worse).  Most policymakers and groups working on the program will have moved on and so the way to stay on target is to set realistic (but bold) milestones goals, targets, and timelines to stay on track and achieve safe, clean, water for all.

See our top-level goals, and additional recommendations in the full report.

Read the full Vision 2045 Report






Heal the Bay was honored by the Los Angeles City Council for the impactful role of both the Angler Outreach Program and Heal the Bay Aquarium on October 20 2023 with the official declaration of Heal the Bay Day.

Heal the Bay staff have been glowing with pride since Los Angeles City Council officially declared October 20, 2023, as “Heal the Bay Day in LA.”  Led by Los Angeles City Councilwoman Traci Park (CD11), a special presentation was held with City Council colleagues to formally honor the organization while highlighting the 20th anniversaries of its Angler Outreach Program as well as the Heal the Bay Aquarium.  These keystone programs use science, education, community action, and advocacy to fulfill Heal the Bay’s mission to protect coastal waters and watersheds in Southern California. The Angler Outreach Program and Aquarium continue to be champions of public health, climate change awareness, biodiversity, and environmental justice for our local communities.

Honoring the Platinum Anniversaries of Two Keystone Programs

From Summit to Sea, the effects of Heal the Bay’s legacy of impactful environmental programming can be seen throughout Los Angeles, advocating for Angelenos and local ecosystems alike.

For two decades Heal the Bay’s award-winning multi-lingual Angler Outreach Program has educated more than 190,000 pier and shore anglers about the risks of consuming fish contaminated with pollutants and toxins, which fish that contain higher levels of toxins and the amounts that can be safely consumed.  The work ripples out beyond the coast, touching the lives of people throughout Los Angeles County who fish to sustain themselves and their families.

Also celebrating its platinum anniversary, Heal the Bay Aquarium, located at the Santa Monica Pier, welcomes more than 100,000 guests annually and hosts a variety of public programs and events that highlight local environmental issues and solutions. The award-winning marine animal exhibits and education programs work to equitably inspire the next generation of environmental stewards with programming for Title One students, seasonal camps, and community partnerships.

Heal the Bay at Los Angeles City Hall

The “Heal the Bay Day” presentation was led by Councilwoman Traci Park (CD11) and joined by Councilmembers Katy Yaroslavsky (CD5) and Councilmember Tim McOsker (CD15), who collectively recognized Heal the Bay’s efforts to protect our waterways by bringing science, education, and advocacy into communities all over LA. Councilmembers Imelda Padilla (CD6), Curren Price (CD9), Bob Blumenfield (CD3), and Council President Paul Krekorian (CD2) also shared thoughtful stories about Heal the Bay and partnership projects.

Heal the Bay President and CEO Tracy Quinn led staff, board members, and Heal the Bay supporters to the council chambers floor to accept the commendations and take time to recognize all who make Heal the Bay’s impactful work possible.   She pointed out that “Heal the Bay started with a single focus; to heal Santa Monica Bay but over the years we have become an organization that works to protect safe clean water for all of Los Angeles.”

“Water is something that connects us all, especially here in Los Angeles” Quinn went on to say. “Every one of your 15 districts [represented here] has a direct impact on the health and availability of water for all. And it starts on your streets, in your backyards, and in your parks.”

“I want to thank those of you who have already partnered with us and invite those who have not yet, to join Heal the Bay in its final mission to protect our Coastal waters and waterways, and to ensure safe and reliable water for all Angelenos.”

Notable quotes

Councilmember Traci Park (CD11) whose district includes much of the westside including Venice, led the ceremony, “As the caretaker of our City’s coastal district, to get to partner with the leaders in Heal the Bay who are advancing smart water policy here in Los Angeles and beyond, as they do beach cleanups and do educational work, hosting them today in Council was an absolute honor.”

Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky (CD5) kindly pointed out the range of Heal the Bay’s efforts, “There is no greater organization doing this work — making sure everybody knows how dirty our water is than Heal the Bay. Part of what makes Heal the Bay so special is that they extend their work beyond your typical beach cleanup, though they do a spectacular beach cleanup.”

Councilmember Tim McCosker (CD15) whose district includes areas along the coast took the conversation beyond cleanups to describe Heal the Bay’s “holistic approach to make sure that we are reducing the amount of pollution that gets out there, eradicating the pollution and educating folks, as well as proposing legislation to make sure that we continue to heal the planet through healing the ocean.”

Watch Channel 35’s day of coverage here!

Heal the Bay Day

Heal the Bay staff

It was a day the Heal the Bay Team will never forget. Whether you are new to the organization as a volunteer, staff member, or supporter, or have worked to environmentally empower Los Angeles with Heal the Bay since 1985, this day was a victory for all of you. The beautiful plaques featured above commemorate October 20, 2023, as “Heal the Bay Day in LA”, but these City Hall resolutions cement our organization in the story of Los Angeles forever.

Thank you to all the volunteers, donors, and supporters who continue to make our work possible.

Happy Heal the Bay Day Los Angeles!

Support Heal The Bay

Celebrate Heal The Bay Day With HTB Gear




Oct. 20 declared Heal the Bay Day – Beverly Press & Park Labrea NewsBeverly Press & Park Labrea News

Los Angeles City Council declares October 20 ‘Heal the Bay Day’ – Daily News

City Council Honors Heal the Bay, Declares `Heal the Bay Day in LA’ (

City Council to Honor Heal the Bay, Vote to Declare ‘Heal the Bay Day in LA’ | News |

Los Angeles City Council declares October 20 ‘Heal the Bay Day’ (

Wrapping up our 2023 Heal the Bay Volunteer Season with a look back at our 2022 achievements.

Heal the Bay thrives because of the work and dedication of our amazing volunteers. 2022 was an especially incredible year for our volunteer program as initiatives that were suspended by COVID protocols in 2020 were reenergized by our staff, donors and of course our volunteers!

As we end our 2023 Volunteer Season we take time to reflect on the wins of the year before. Heal the Bay is proud to share all our volunteer accomplishments and achievements in our 2022 Volunteer Impact Report, created by our Volunteer Programs Manager Annie Lopez.

DOWNLOAD THE HEAL THE BAY 2022 Volunteer Impact Report and check out our 2022 volunteer highlights below.

Are you ready to make your impact as a volunteer? Want to help care for animals at the Aquarium? Interested in educating the public on the sand at Beach Cleanups? Ready to help protect precious ecosystems found in Marine Protected Areas? Join us for our LAST Volunteer Orientation of 2023 to learn about all the ways you can help protect what you love!



It is with heavy heart that we mourn the passing of Cindy Montañez (January 19, 1974 – October 21, 2023).   

Successful nonprofit leaders typically embrace one of two types of advocacies — either grassroots or grasstops. Grass-toppers exert extra influence on campaigns by mobilizing influential politicians and high-profile movers-and-shakers. Grassrooters, on the other hand, rely on passionate everyday people in the community to rally around a given cause and demand change. 

Grasstop power is knowing the right people. Grassroots power is strength in numbers. 

Cindy Montañez, the longtime CEO of TreePeople who passed away today, was the rare policymaker who had the charisma and smarts to wield both forms of power. She knew how to work her roots and the political treetops. 

At heart a Valley Girl, Montañez worked tirelessly to promote the interests of the working-class Latino community she grew up in.  At UCLA, she was one of five students who led a successful hunger strike in 1993 to overturn a decision to not fund a Chicano Studies program on campus. After being elected to the San Fernando City Council at the ripe age of 26, she later served as state Assemblymember, becoming the youngest person and the first Latina to ever chair the powerful Rules committee. 

Those political connections would later help fuel her work at TreePeople, which shares Heal the Bay’s vision for a greener, more equitable, more sustainable greater L.A. 

While Heal the Bay and TreePeople engage in a form of co-opetition, as our former Communication Director Matthew King used to put it, ”Each nonprofit works hard to differentiate itself to secure government grants, fundraising dollars and media attention, but when it comes to environmental policy in greater L.A. our two organizations are usually joined at the hip.

The health of L.A.’s tree canopy and the health of L.A.’s ocean and watersheds are inextricably linked. What is good for trees is good for the sea. That’s why our policy teams have put their collective weight and clout over the years behind sound policy that will clean air, water and soil for generations to come in the Southland. 

 In 2006, then Assemblymember Montañez was the keynote speaker for Heal the Bay’s first Urban Watershed Summit at Compton College. She continued to work with Heal the Bay on various issues, playing a huge role in bringing the Measure W coalition to victory in 2018. The Safe Clean Water Program now provides nearly $300 million in public funds for increased stormwater capture and reuse throughout the region.  

While her political savvy in the corridors of power drove victories like these, her deep connection to her family’s immigrant experience underpinned all her success. 

 “She’s selfless, it’s never about Cindy. It’s always about the greater objective,” Mark Gold, former CEO and President of Heal the Bay, said shortly before her death. “She really wants to make a difference in the community.  She knows that improving the environment is improving the quality of life for the community she cares about.” 

Recently, the Los Angeles City Council honored Cindy for her lifetime achievements and her many roles and impacts of influence and action.  

Looking ahead, Montañez said she hoped all levels of government will put more focus on addressing climate change. Although the widespread focus on homelessness and affordable housing is important, the intense focus can come at the expense of addressing pressing environmental concerns, she said. 

“We focus too much on one thing” at a time, she said. “We need to include climate change.” “I hope that somebody emerges as the champion for environmental justice.

“The fight for justice should never end”, she said later in the interview. 

“Did I do enough?” she asked. “No. But I did everything I could while I was able to.” 

Thank you, Cindy, we are all forever grateful! 

Read more about the life and legacy of Cindy Montañez

Ex-San Fernando councilwoman, assemblymember, dies at 50 (

Cindy Montañez, ex-San Fernando Councilwoman, Assembly member, dies at 50 – Daily News

Cindy Montañez, environmental and political pioneer, reflects as her time runs out – Los Angeles Times (


Coastal Cleanup Month 2023 was a big success for Heal the Bay! Thank you to all our Healers who made this amazing month possible. Join us for a look back at all we accomplished in September of 2023, from Summit to Sea, and get ready for all we have to look forward to in October of 2023.

Spectrum 1 Spotlight: Heal the Bay’s Everyday Heroes Kick off Coastal Cleanup Day

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Kicking off Coastal Cleanup Day — Check out the incredible news package featuring our own Meredith McCarthy and long-time rockstar volunteer Fallon Rabin for Spectrum News 1 “Everyday Hero” weekly segment that ran hourly throughout the programming day and evening.


Coastal Cleanup Education Day 2023

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

The Wednesday before Coastal Cleanup Day was “Coastal Cleanup Education Day” at the Aquarium and it was all hands on deck for Heal the Bay staff.  Our Aquarium hosted more than 250 3rd-5th grade students from across Los Angeles County for a day of beach exploration, scientific excursions, pollution education, and hands on learning while having some fun in the sun.


ONE Water Day

Friday, September 22, 2023

Our third annual ONE Water Day was a huge success and reintroduced Heal the Bay as a thought leader on water policy in LA! Heal the Bay convened the top LA water agencies, state leaders, and policy experts to participate in a compelling conversation about how to balance reliability and affordability as we adapt to a changing climate.  We also welcomed California Assemblymember Laura Friedman (AD 44) and Senator Ben Allen (SD 24), along with several City and County staff.  We were also pleased to host our partners from local engineering firms to listen in to the big water issues impacting the future of our City, County and State.

This year’s theme was balancing reliability and affordability – we discussed how water agencies and state leaders are planning to pay for the multi-billion-dollar water recycling projects planned for LA County and how they will ensure that underserved and low-income communities will be able to afford water for their basic needs. The consensus was clear — we will do it by working together!  Water agencies, state and federal partners, NGOs, and the business community must come together to invest in innovative solutions to achieve our water reliability and climate resilience goals.

A special thank you to our 2023 ONE Water Day Sponsors Brown & Caldwell, CDM Smith, Metropolitan Water District for making this event possible.


Coastal Cleanup Day

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Coastal Cleanup Day was a tremendous success this year.  Our staff and volunteers overcame every obstacle thrown at them and came together to achieve the best Coastal Cleanup Day in years! The teamwork was absolutely inspirational.  There is no question that we had an incredible turn out and we’ve already turned our eyes to next year (Sept 21, 2023) where we are planning to do even better.

Starting in August LA was a buzz with excitement over Coastal Cleanup Day 2023. Registration for Heal the Bay sites were covered by news outlets like LAist (KPCC), Good Day LA, Spectrum News1, the OC Register, and many more. Even our local elected officials got into the spirit if CCD including LA City Councilwoman Traci Park (CD11) who proudly donned a Heal the Bay shirt in City Council to promote Coastal Cleanup Day.  Check out her full City Council presentation from the August 25th, 2023 meeting.

The energy on the day of was nothing less than spectacular across our many beach, underwater, neighborhood and inland sites.

Enjoy some on the sand coverage from KCLA who joined our volunteers at the Santa Monica Pier cleanup site:  Thousands hit SoCal beaches for California Coastal Cleanup Day – CBS Los Angeles (

And now that the FINAL results are in, drumroll please…

Coastal Cleanup Day 2023 Stats


Los Angeles County Numbers (Heal the Bay Sites)

  1. 47 Cleanup Sites Reported
  2. 7,337 volunteers
  3. 1,646 volunteers who brought their own cleanup supplies
  4. 16,211 pounds of trash
  5. 429 pounds of recycling
  6. 97.5 miles of beach, river, underwater, and neighborhoods sites cleaned.
  7. 15 Inland Cleanups, 31 Coastal Cleanups, 2 Dive Cleanups

 Check out our Coastal Cleanup Day Wrap-up Blog for more stats and the California Commissions latest recap on the Statewide numbers.

And a special thank you to our 2023 Coastal Cleanup Day Sponsors:




Heal the Bay Day in LA

Friday, October 20, 2023

SAVE THE DATE: On October 20th, the Los Angeles City Council (presented by Councilwoman Traci Park – CD11) will honor Heal the Bay for the 20th Anniversary of our Aquarium and Angler Outreach Program and declare October 20, 2023, Heal the Bay Day in LA.  I hope you can join us in City Council Chambers between 10am – 12noon.

Summer is officially here – the peak season for swimming outdoors. Heal the Bay releases its annual scientific reports on bacterial-pollution rankings for hundreds of beaches in California and dozens of freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County.

Download Beach Report Card

Download River Report Card


For more than 30 years, Heal the Bay has assigned annual “A-to-F” letter grades for 700 beaches from Washington State to Tijuana, Mexico including 500 California beaches in the 2022-2023 report, based on levels of fecal-indicator bacterial pollution in the ocean measured by County health agencies. In addition, since 2017, the organization has ranked freshwater quality, releasing report grades for 35 freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County for summer 2022 in its fifth annual River Report Card. The public can check out the updated water quality of their local freshwater recreation areas at and ocean beaches at or by downloading the app on their smartphone.



The good news is 95% of the California beaches assessed by Heal the Bay received an A or B grade during summer 2022, which is on par with the average.

Even so, Heal the Bay scientists remain deeply concerned about ocean water quality. Polluted waters pose a significant health risk to millions of people in California. People who come in contact with water with a C grade or lower are at a greater risk of contracting illnesses such as stomach flu, ear infections, upper respiratory infections, and rashes. Beaches and rivers usually have poor water quality following a rain event. More rain typically means that increased amounts of pollutants, including bacteria, are flushed through storm drains and rivers into the ocean.  Sewage spills pose increased health risks and trigger immediate beach closures, which should be heeded until public officials clear the area. Last year an astounding 45 million gallons of sewage were spilled and made their way to California beaches. Only 56% of California beaches had good or excellent grades during wet weather, which was worse than average, and very concerning.

“As climate change continues to bring weather whiplash, our water woes will swing from scarcity to pollution. This year, record precipitation produced major impacts on water quality across Coastal California,” said Tracy Quinn, President and CEO of Heal the Bay. “Now more than ever, we must prioritize multi-benefit projects to manage stormwater as both a water quality and supply solution, all while ensuring that the public is kept informed of risks to public health.”

Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card and River Report Card provide access to the latest water quality information and are a critical part of our science-based advocacy work in support of strong environmental policies that protect public health.

Download Beach Report Card

Read Beach Report Card summary en Español



Heal the Bay’s Beach Bummer List ranks the most polluted beaches in California based on levels of harmful bacteria in the ocean. The 2022-2023 Beach Bummer List includes beaches in Los Angeles, San Mateo, San Diego, and Orange Counties as well as the Tijuana Area. This year, Santa Monica Pier and Playa Blanca in Tijuana tied for the top spot as both faced significant water quality challenges.

  • 1-2. Playa Blanca, Tijuana Area
  • 1-2. Santa Monica Pier, LA County
  • 3. Linda Mar Beach, San Mateo County
  • 4. Marlin Park, San Mateo County
  • 5. Erckenbrack Park, San Mateo County
  • 6. Tijuana River Mouth, San Diego County
  • 7. Pillar Point Harbor, San Mateo County
  • 8. Marina del Rey Mother’s Beach, LA County
  • 9. Poche Beach, Orange County
  • 10. Gull Park, San Mateo County



This year, only two out of over 500 monitored beaches made it on the Honor Roll compared to 51 last year. Unfortunately, the unprecedented amount of rain that fell across California during the 2022–2023 winter led to an enormous dip in water quality and a very short Honor Roll list. The Honor Roll is typically dominated by Southern California beaches, in part, because many Northern and Central California Counties do not monitor beach water quality year-round. However, it appears that the wet weather from this past winter took its toll everywhere.

  • Point Loma, Lighthouse, San Diego
  • Bean Hollow State Beach, San Mateo

The record rainfall impacted the Honor Roll list in two ways: 1) fewer beaches received Winter Dry Grades because most of the winter data was collected during wet weather, and 2) increased precipitation negatively impacts water quality. In order to get on the Honor Roll, a beach must have zero bacterial exceedances all year under all conditions, which is extremely difficult to do with so much rainfall. The unsettlingly short Honor Roll was also impacted by our inability to grade one third of San Diego County’s beaches, which usually comprise a large portion of the Honor Roll (15 in the last report). in 2022 San Diego agencies began using a new testing method for bacterial pollution at nearly a third of beaches in the County, which is unfortunately not yet compatible with our grading methods in the Beach Report Card. Find out why we couldn’t grade nearly a third of San Diego beaches in the full report.


Heal the Bay graded 35 freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County within the L.A. River, San Gabriel River, and Malibu Creek Watersheds during summer 2022. Across all 35 sites and all dates graded throughout summer 2022, 65% of grades were Green (indicating no water quality health risks); 15% were Yellow (moderate health risk), and 19% were Red (high health risk). This was an improvement from the previous year.

We are thrilled to be debuting a new method for grading freshwater quality in summer 2023 in our weekly grades that are online. The method was developed with the help of a team of water quality experts and will use the same letter grading system (A-F) as the Beach Report Card to improve user experience and reflect the latest science.

“Our River Report Card identifies a disturbing trend between development and water quality. The natural areas in our watersheds, rivers and streams with muddy or sandy bottoms and ample flora, typically have the best water quality and are the safest for the public. In contrast, heavily developed areas, waterways encased with concrete (including within the L.A. River channel) and stormdrain inputs, tend to have lower water quality. We recommend checking out the River Report Card before heading out to the L.A. River because bacteria levels are often at unsafe levels and you can find a safer spot for cooling off,” said Dr. Alison Xunyi Wu, Water Quality Data Specialist and co-author of the River Report Card and Beach Report Card.

Download River Report Card

Read River Report Card summary en Español



Top 10 river recreation sites in Los Angeles County that are high-risk places to contact the water. Note: Three sites are tied for number 1 Freshwater Fails.

  • 1-3. L.A. River at Riverfront Park
  • 1-3. Compton Creek
  • 1-3. Tujunga Wash at Hansen Dam
  • 4. L.A. River below the Rio Hondo Confluence
  • 5. L.A. River at Willow St.
  • 6. L.A. River at Hollydale Park
  • 7. L.A. River below the Compton Creek Confluence
  • 8. Bull Creek
  • 9. Lake Balboa Boat Ramp
  • 10. Las Virgenes Creek



Top 10 river recreation sites in Los Angeles County that are low-risk places to swim or boat. An impressive eight sites tied for number 1 with 100% Green grades all summer.

  • 1-8. San Gabriel River East Fork at Graveyard Canyon
  • 1-8. San Gabriel River Upper Cattle Canyon
  • 1-8. Hansen Dam Lake
  • 1-8. San Gabriel River Upper East Fork
  • 1-8. San Gabriel River Upper West Fork
  • 1-8. Big Tujunga Creek at Vogel Flats
  • 1-8. Big Tujunga Creek at Delta Flats
  • 1-8. San Gabriel River Lower West Fork
  • 9. Eaton Canyon
  • 10. San Gabriel River Upper North Fork


  • View and for the latest water quality information.
  • Avoid shallow, enclosed beaches with poor water circulation.
  • Swim at least 100 yards away from flowing storm drains, creeks, and piers.
  • Stay out of the water for at least 72-hours after a rain event.
  • Follow all local health and safety regulations, including all local pandemic-related regulations.
  • Check in with the lifeguard or ranger on duty for more information about the best places to swim.
  • Stay in the know! This year, the annual reports received state and national coverage – appearing in the New York Times, LA Times, and Associated Press.


The COVID-19 pandemic, record-setting wildfire seasons, and extreme heat have compounded the already dire need for equity in our recreational waters, and exposed major systemic failures; open spaces, including beaches and rivers, are not equally accessible to all people. Low-income communities of color tend to be the most burdened communities, bearing the brunt of environmental pollution, socioeconomic disparities, and limited access to safe, healthy, and clean water recreation. Heal the Bay is committed to expanding the user base of our Beach Report Card and River Report Card. We have started by working with local community-based organizations that are taking down barriers to water recreation for communities of color. Through this work, we will amplify what “safe, healthy, and clean access to water recreation” means in the communities where it is needed the most.


About Heal the Bay: Heal the Bay is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1985. They use science, education, community action, and advocacy to fulfill their mission to protect coastal waters and watersheds in Southern California with a particular focus on public health, climate change, biodiversity, and environmental justice. Heal the Bay Aquarium, located at the Santa Monica Pier, welcomes 100,000 guests annually and hosts a variety of public programs and events that highlight local environmental issues and solutions. Learn more at and follow @healthebay on social media or watch this short video.

Beach Report Card with NowCast, in partnership with World Surf League, is Heal the Bay’s flagship scientific water quality monitoring program that started in the 1990s. For more than thirty years, the Beach Report Card has influenced the improvement of water quality by increasing monitoring efforts and helping to enact strong environmental and public health policies. Learn more at and download the free app on Apple and Android devices. The Beach Report Card is made possible through generous support from SIMA Environmental Fund, SONY Pictures Entertainment, and World Surf League.  

About River Report Card: Currently, there is no statewide water quality monitoring mandate for rivers and streams in California, like exists for the ocean as a result of the Beach Report Card. Heal the Bay started the River Report Card in 2017 to push for new public health protections for freshwater areas in addition to serving the immediate need for increased public awareness about the risks at popular freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County. Learn more at The River Report Card is supported by Environment Now.  

Download Press Release in English

Download Digital Media Kit

Download Social Media Images

View the Beach Report Card and River Report Card from last year.