Heal the Bay Blog

Author: Heal the Bay

 What caused last month’s sewage spill in the Bay?

 Over 30,000 gallons of raw sewage discharged unintentionally into Ballona Creek and then into the ocean on May 8-9. The spill forced full closures along Dockweiler Beach and Venice Beach, two of the most popular shoreline spots in greater L.A.

The culprit was root blockage in a main sewer line in West Hollywood. Over time, tree roots can infiltrate sewer pipes causing them to clog or break. A sewer main is a publicly owned pipeline, typically located under a street, that collects waste from numerous homes and businesses and transports it to a wastewater treatment facility. Based on the spill report from the State Office of Emergency Services, it appears that the sewage blocked up in West Hollywood, spilled onto the street, and entered a storm drain, which eventually made its way to Ballona Creek and out to the ocean.

 How much icky stuff reached the sea?

According to the most report from California Integrated Water Quality System Project (CIWQS), it was revealed that a staggering 31,763 gallons of sewage were discharged from this residence, significantly surpassing the initial estimate of 14,400 gallons, which was the amount widely reported in the media.

 What damage can these spills do to humans and the ecosystem?     

Raw sewage is very dangerous to people and wildlife, as it contains bacteria, viruses, and can carry a variety of diseases. There is also debris in raw sewage, such as wipes, tampons and other personal health items. When released into waterways and the ocean, the waste and debris can harbor bacteria or be ingested by animals. Sewage is made up primarily of organic matter that is food for smaller organisms at the bottom of the food chain like algae. A large discharge of sewage can lead to algal blooms that can deplete oxygen in the water, possibly leading to fish kills and impacts to aquatic organisms and ecosystems. Discharges of sewage can also increase the cloudiness of water, smothering species or impacting the amount of light that can pass through the water for photosynthetic organisms.

Did some media overplay this story?

A recent Los Angeles Magazine article “Beach Residents are Sick of the Crap”, made a link between the recent sewage spill from Ballona Creek and reports of “dead fish and birds” and sick surfers in the area. Heal the Bay takes sewage spills and threats to public and environmental health very seriously. But we pride ourselves on being a science-based organization and we question whether this assertion is backed up with robust data. It is tempting to use anecdotal evidence to indicate causation, but to effect change we must rely on good data to back up our advocacy. Recently there have been increased reports of starving and sick pelicans, but these reports preceded the latest sewage spill. We don’t have enough evidence to conclude that the impacts on fish and birds are related to sewage spills. Researchers and advocates must continue to identify the reasons why pelicans are starving while also working to stop sewage spills and protect public health.

Heal the Bay got its start nearly 40 years ago by making sure raw sewage didn’t get released into local waters. Why do we still see these discharges happen?

 Heal the Bay’s first fight was to stop partially treated sewage from being discharged into the Santa Monica Bay from the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant. Hyperion now treats wastewater to a much higher degree and, when everything functions properly, we actually aren’t concerned about bacteria or viruses being discharged into the ocean. But climate change is already impacting our sewer systems; as we see more intense storms, some of that water is finding its way into sewer pipes, scouring the debris that gets stuck in our pipes, mostly wipes, which can overwhelm our treatment plants. Hyperion isn’t designed for these intense storm events, and in fact, hasn’t had a major overhaul since Heal the Bay pushed them to 40-years ago. We have other concerns about treatment plants too — like the discharge of treated water, which can be recycled and reused, and the discharge of nutrients into the ocean, which is exacerbating impacts of ocean acidification and warming. And we know that major spills from treatment plants can and do still happen, like we saw in 2021 at Hyperion.

Spills that happen outside of treatment plants from sewer pipelines are often due to aging infrastructure. Pipes don’t last forever and maintenance and replacement are required. According to a statement that Director and General Manager of LA Sanitation & Environment Barbara Romero gave to Los Angeles City Council, approximately one-third of the city’s pipelines have exceeded the 90-year mark. Typically, sewer pipes are designed with a lifespan ranging from 50 to 100 years. Given that the majority of Los Angeles’ sewer infrastructure predates 1950, it’s evident that a significant portion is approaching the end of its operational lifespan. As a region, we must invest in and prioritize infrastructure repair and replacement. That will likely mean higher utility rates. As we make repairs, we must also be forward-thinking of the current changing climate and what’s to come, planning for opportunities to maximize water recycling and readying for larger and more intense but less frequent rainfall.

Was this a one-off event or should we be worried about an increased amount of spills in the future?

Unfortunately, discharges happen periodically but they vary widely in volume and whether the sewage actually reaches a waterway – namely a river or the ocean.

Major sewage spills are fairly rare, but we have had some big ones in the last three years. In July 2021, Hyperion had a major failure and discharged 12.5 million gallons of sewage to the ocean from its outfall pipe that discharges one mile into the ocean. The proposed fine of $27 million by the Water Board is still being negotiated by the City of LA. In December 2021, 8.5 million gallons of sewage was discharged into the Dominguez Channel from an overflow in an LA County Sanitation Districts pipeline. LA County paid a fine of $6 million for this spill and 14 others, with much of the fine returning to fund a local stormwater park to benefit the community. The LA Magazine article incorrectly attributed this spill to the City of LA, when in fact it was the County of LA.

However, smaller sewage spills are not an uncommon occurrence regionally. Sewage spills are tracked by the state which is where Heal the Bay pulls data to look at trends over time. Over the last 10 years (2014-2023), there have been a total of 3,174 spill cases resulting in 30,521,025 gallons of sewage in LA County, with around half of that amount reaching surface waters.

The number of spills actually shows a decreasing trend over the last 10 years (see chart below), but there is not a clear trend when we look at volume spilled over time. Clearly, we see spikes in years when there were major spills. Obtaining data on spills is not easy or user-friendly and the data itself is not perfect. The graphs below actually don’t have the 2021 Hyperion spill in them due to that data being listed differently by agencies.


What’s the difference between sewers and storm drains?

We must remember not to confuse the sewer and storm drain systems, which are separate in Los Angeles. Waste from inside homes and businesses enters the sewer system and is treated before being discharged into the sea. Meanwhile, rain and daily urban runoff (sprinklers, hosing down sidewalks, washing a car in the street) enters our storm drain system. That daily runoff, which can amount to 10 million gallons in greater LA even on a dry day, is not cleaned and enters waterways and the ocean directly.

The LA Magazine article conflates the two, describing “pools of raw sewage [that] puddle in heavily traveled areas, like the beach in front of Santa Monica’s Shutters and Casa del Mar hotels.” These two hotels sit near the outfall of the Pico-Kenter storm drain, which drains major portions of Los Angeles and Santa Monica. During storms, Pico-Kenter funnels huge amounts of trash and toxins to the beach and ocean. The puddles described by LA Mag were very unlikely to be raw sewage and much more likely to be stormwater runoff, which  is typically filled with unsightly trash and bacteria which can cause illness but is less of a health concern than raw sewage.

Who is responsible for maintaining the sewer system?

 The sewer system in LA County consists of 17,000 miles of pipes and is both publicly and privately owned.

Lateral lines are privately owned and connect homes and businesses to the public system. Homeowners and business owners are responsible for maintaining and cleaning those lines, which are known to get clogged and impacted from tree roots. Regular maintenance is key to preventing problems and sewage leaks and spills from lateral lines. Blockages can also be prevented by all of us by not flushing anything down the toilet except toilet paper and waste. That means no wipes (even if they’re flushable), tampons, condoms, plastic, needles, or anything else. And for sinks, that means no fats, oils, and grease, which can clog pipes as well.

LA County Sanitation Districts’ service area covers 78 cities and the unincorporated areas within the County (824 square miles); the City of LA is responsible for more than 6,700 miles of sewers. Finally, the wastewater ends up at wastewater treatment or water reclamation plants.

The City of LA operates four plants: Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant, Los Angeles Glendale Water Reclamation Plant, Terminal Island Water Reclamation Plant, and Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant. The County of LA operates 11 wastewater treatment facilities, the largest being the A.K. Warren Water Resource Facility (formerly known as Joint Water Pollution Control Plant) in Carson.

 Are the various agencies and municipalities doing all that they can to prevent these spills?

 The City and County of LA recognize the need for maintenance, upgrades, and replacement of aging infrastructure. Staff is also focused on improving systems and processes for detecting, responding to, and notifying the public of spills.

Heal the Bay and our partner non-profit organizations meet regularly with leadership at LA County Sanitation Districts and we appreciate their transparency as well taking accountability for spills and reinvesting in local communities. The scale of the problem for LA City and LA County is huge in terms of identifying and prioritizing areas in need of repair across 17,000 miles of sewer pipes.

 What is Heal the Bay doing to make sure these spills don’t happen in the future? How are you holding dischargers accountable?

 Heal the Bay is dedicated to protecting public health and making sure that spills don’t happen in the future by:

  • Advocating for:
    • Increased transparency and commitments from LASAN and LACSD  as well as the Department of Public Health on coordination, rapid testing, and rapid notification of the public when there is a sewage spill, especially major ones that could have an impact on public health.
    • Appropriate fines when there are spills and requiring those fines to be invested in local communities that were impacted and water quality improvement projects
    • Funding for City and County of LA to make necessary upgrades to infrastructure through local, state, and federal funding as well as through rate increases
      • Heal the Bay supports the recently proposed sewer rate increases by LA Bureau of Sanitation & Environment as it must address aging infrastructure and keep up with inflation, the agency’s needs, and our new climate reality.
  • Implementation of the recommendations in the report from the 2021 sewage spill at Hyperion
  • Educating residents on actions they can take to prevent sewage clogs and spills.
  • Informing the public when there is a spill as a trusted voice in the community through our social media, blogs, and the Beach Report Card and River Report Card.

How can residents support those efforts?

  1. If you’re a homeowner or business owner, maintain your lateral sewer lines.
  2. Prevent clogs and spills by educating yourself, your family, and friends on what is ok or not ok to flush down the toilet and don’t put fats, oils, and grease down the sink.
  3. Support Heal the Bay’s advocacy work by donating or sponsoring our Beach Report Card.

Make A Donation

Our South Bay town hall detailed how coastal cities can best protect themselves.

Remnants of a bluff-top apartment building in Pacifica that crumbled to the beach, where rocks form a barrier against the rising sea. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times). 

The ocean is moving in. But unlike most unwanted guests, sea level rise is here to stay.

Because of the carbon emissions already emitted since the Industrial Revolution, sea level rise (SLR) is inevitable in our region. California’s oceans are expected to rise 1 foot by 2050. Although this number may appear small, this rise in sea level will result in devastating impacts – from severe coastal flooding to widespread loss of cherished beaches. But that does not mean all hope is lost. With proper resilience planning at the state and local levels, our region can escape the most cataclysmic effects. But we need to start acting right now.

Tracy Quinn (left), Rosanna Xia (center), and Warren Ontiveros (right) in conversation at Heal the Bay’s Sea Level Rise panel in Hermosa Beach.

That was the stark assessment of panelists gathered Sunday, April 28, for Heal the Bay’s “Rising Tides” town hall at the Hermosa Beach Community Center. Heal the Bay CEO Tracy Quinn moderated a lively conversation with Rosanna Xia, L.A. Times coastal reporter, and Warren Ontiveros, chief planner for L.A. County’s Beach and Harbors division. Hermosa Beach Mayor Justin Massey welcomed the audience.

Xia, author of the acclaimed book “California Against the Sea: Visions for a Vanishing Coastline,” urged policymakers to reframe SLR as an opportunity rather than a disaster. California can mend its “fractured relationship with our shoreline,” she argued, by adopting the mindset of the region’s first settlers. The Chumash, guided by a spirit of balance and reciprocity, looked to care for and heal the shoreline rather than command and control it. Our state has seen rising and falling seas for millennia, Xia noted. Centuries ago, California’s northern Channel Islands formed a single land mass until the Pacific Ocean rose and created five separate islands. The coast is not static, it is always changing.

But today’s challenges are starker given human-made emissions. Melting polar ice caps and increased expansion of water through rising ocean temperatures are the primary SLR drivers.

The California coastline (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

And those rising tides could prove disastrous. California could lose nearly 70% of all beaches and all its wetlands by 2100 if we fail to act. That loss would truly be a doomsday scenario, with 70M annual day visits to beaches annually and $1.3 billion in economic stimulus from the coastal economy.

Ontiveros shared some of the steps the County is taking to build greater resilience to the SLR onslaught. His division has created a scorecard for identifying the two dozen LA County beaches most vulnerable to erosion, flooding, and lack of public access. According to the County, the 10 beaches most at risk, in order of vulnerability, are Zuma, Redondo Beach, Malibu Surfrider, Point Dume, Dockweiler, Dan Blocker, Las Tunas, Topanga, Nicholas Canyon, and Will Rogers.

County engineers are readying several so-called beach nourishment projects to help preserve sand and public access in these threatened sites. In a hybrid mechanical-natural adaptation move, engineers hope to take tons of sand from the deep sea and “transplant” it on the Zuma and Point Dume shorelines. They would use the reclaimed sand to create “living shorelines,” where installed dunes and plant life would retain sand longer and provide natural buffers to flooding. The plans, which face many permitting and logistical challenges, would add 25 feet of sand to these iconic beaches.

Xia then encouraged the audience to think of the shoreline not so much as a place but as a process. Everything is always shifting, she said. Trying to fix straight lines and immovable objects on the shorelines is a fool’s errand.

The panelists agreed that buffering our coast and building resilience will require both engineered concrete solutions, such as relocating highways, and nature-based solutions, such as wetlands restoration, to accommodate increased flooding. Coastal residents will have to accept change. Their neighborhoods and the larger coastline will look different, panelists said.

Gleason Beach realignment bridge construction (Michael Sweeney Photography)

Xia described a recent project in Sonoma County that saw Caltrans rebuild an arterial coastline highway that once snaked along Gleason Beach as an overpass further inland. Underneath the roadway, engineers designed a series of natural buffers and floodplains. Some residents called the new project an eyesore, Xia noted, while others saw it as a boon to a threatened community.

“The ‘my way or the highway’ mentality can’t work,” Xia said. Communities need to compromise and be realistic.

Ontiveros singled out the threatened Cardiff Beach in northern San Diego as an example of residents and planners working together to successfully adapt to rising seas. Nearly five acres of dune habitat have been restored in a multi-benefit project that will help protect a vulnerable section of PCH and increase public access to local beaches.

The Cardiff Living Shorelines Project (Resilient Coastlines)

Xia noted that statewide resilience will be achieved through a series of iterative projects like Cardiff. There will not be one master document that solves all the many challenges in one fell swoop. Planning means envisioning and building continually over decades, where knowledge gained can be applied to the next challenge.

Panelists did not delve into the tricky question of how we find funds to pay for all this resilience work, which could hit $1 trillion statewide by the century’s end. Capitol lawmakers have made more federal funds available as part of a renewed push to protect the nation’s infrastructure.

While legislators and scientists have led the push to battle SLR, Xia urged decision-makers to widen the idea of who is an expert. Indigenous communities and frontline neighborhoods must be part of finding solutions, she said. Ontiveros echoed her comments, noting that millions of inland beachgoers depend on the sea for recreational and therapeutic relief. Hearing from inland communities is critical and will require proactive outreach, he said.

The session ended with thoughts on how everyday residents can best help their communities prepare for the ravages of sea-level rise. Coastal city residents should get involved in local city planning, Xia urged. By 2034, every beachside municipality must submit a Local Coastal Plan to state officials, with SLR vulnerability assessments and resilience recommendations.


To get a copy of Rosanna Xia’s book, please click here.

Heal the Bay thrives because of our amazing volunteers. We are only able to celebrate those achievements because of the time, dedication, and support that our volunteers so graciously donate. 

On March 21, 2024, Heal the Bay celebrated the incredible volunteers and supporters at our annual Super Healer Awards and Volunteer Party.

Our dedicated volunteers span a wide age range, from 12 to 87 years old, and hail from various corners of the greater Los Angeles area. From Malibu to Long Beach, South LA to the North East San Fernando Valley, volunteers share a common goal at Heal the Bay: to make coastal waters and watersheds safe, healthy, and clean for everyone. Whether they are participating in beach clean-ups or funding critical work, their collective contributions have made a tangible difference in our ongoing efforts to protect our oceans. Thank you to past, present, and future volunteers for your invaluable support and dedication!

2023 Was A Winning Year for Heal the Bay:

Volunteers who participated in our monthly Nothin’ But Sand Beach Cleanups and annual Coastal Cleanup Day programming contributed over 22,278 hours to protecting and conserving our local waterways and coastal waters.

  • On Coastal Cleanup Day, we had 7,337 volunteers remove more than 16,211 lbs of trash and 430 lbs. of recyclables from our waterways and neighborhoods.

  • Aquarium volunteers contributed 5,751 hours as they interpreted at touch tanks, engaged with visiting students, and assisted in caring for our animals.

  • Our MPA Watch volunteers conducted 572 surveys in 2023 to monitor use in the Palos Verdes and Malibu MPA sites.

Our Super Healer Awardees

Corporate Super Healer

The Many

The Many is a local values-based advertising agency headquartered in the Pacific Palisades of Los Angeles, CA. They deliver bespoke client solutions ranging from integrated brand experiences and world record-setting activations to social movements, influencer campaigns and earned media stunts. They are an active supporter of Heal the Bay and this year they have created the campaign design for our biggest fundraising event of the year, our annual Bring Back the Beach Gala. A big thank you to The Many for their amazing support!


Aquarist Super Healer

Bailey Cox

Bailey is a fantastic volunteer. Her ability to work through tasks with incredible speed and efficiency sets her apart. She has a vast knowledge of marine biology, which shows through all of her work. Bailey combines speed with expertise, effortlessly managing multiple responsibilities while ensuring the highest standard of care for our aquatic residents. Her dedication and proficiency make Bailey a valuable asset to our volunteer community, contributing significantly to our mission at Heal the Bay and the well-being of our animals. Thanks Bailey!


Laia Mayne

Laia is one of our most hard-working and meticulous volunteers. She is always eager to tackle whatever task is given to her. Her meticulous care in ensuring the tanks are impeccably clean reflects her dedication and desire to learn. Laia sees her time with us as a stepping stone towards her academic ambitions and brings outstanding professionalism and enthusiasm to our volunteer force. Thanks Laia!



Maia Flores

Maia joined our Aquarium family early on in 2023 and she has shown great enthusiasm and drive for Aquaristing. She is always on top of the tasks she has and is open to trying new tasks. She goes above and beyond in supporting our team in a variety of ways, to help aquarists finish big projects for the day like even getting in and helping scrub Under The Pier. Maia is trustworthy, reliable and dedicated to supporting with any Aquarium tasks for a given day. Thanks Maia!


Jake Bogart

Jake has been an excellent volunteer who shows up consistently and for longer than he is required to do because he enjoys spending time at the Aquarium. He goes above and beyond, staying extra hours to get as much aquaristing experience but also helping us complete tasks at hand. He always comes in with a positive attitude ready to work hard and has insightful questions about Aquaristing. We are grateful to volunteers like Jake who help us keep our Aquarium in tip-top shape. Thanks Jake!



Public Programs Super Healers

Samantha “Sam” Spero

Sam is an Aquarium Super Star. She volunteers with BOTH aquarists and public programs, which gives her a whole new perspective to share with aquarium guests! We also appreciate Sam’s work with Club Heal the Bay. Sam is reliable, creative, and cheerful. It’s a pleasure to work alongside Sam and are in awe of her passion for marine science and marine wildlife. Thank you so much Sam, for your dedication, reliability, and hard work!



Carter Yean

Carter is a spirited and confident volunteer. We appreciate Carter’s volunteer work with Public Programs and his experience advocating for environmental justice. He’s shown amazing leadership, dedication, and eagerness to try new things. Thank you so much for all that you do Carter, and thank you for being a super healer!




Jackson Yean

Jackson has taken on many endeavors as a Public Programs volunteer. From interpreting with guests at the Aquarium to taking part in educational outreach efforts on the Santa Monica Pier, Jackson is always ready and eager to support in any capacity. Jackson contributes not only his time but also brings along awesome animal facts to share with the team and guests. Thanks for all that you do Jackson, we appreciate your time and effort!



Gabriel Snyder

Gabriel has been a dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer since day one! Gabriel takes part in various Heal the Bay volunteer programs such as the Aquarium, Club Heal the Bay, and Adopt-a-Beach. He is passionate about protecting our environment and even wrote a book, Samson the Harbor Seal, to encourage readers to do their, part in reducing plastic pollution. We’re so lucky to have Gabriel be a part of our Heal the Bay family! Thank you for all that you do Gabriel!



Education Super Healer

Sue Liu

Sue has been volunteering with the Education Department for a while now and we absolutely adore her! She has been a positive energy for our team as well as a mentor of sorts. She is great with the students and we cannot thank her enough for her work here, and the kids love her too. Thank you Sue!





Beach Programs Super Healers

Art Salter

Art has been a dedicated Coastal Cleanup Day captain since 2018. He heroic heads up the Santa Monica Pier site at tower 1550 every year, Heal the Bay’s busiest CCD cleanup site! He communicates early and often about his CCD duties and helps keep the Beach Programs team on track for a successful Coastal Cleanup Day.




Samuel Jones


Sam is always ready to put in whatever work is needed to ensure we have a successful cleanup. He is prompt and very communicative.





Jerica Covell

Jerica joined Heal the Bay as a Beach Captain and never looked back. In one year, she has completed the Speakers Bureau training and volunteered as a summer intern for CCD 2023. Jerica’s dedication is invaluable to Heal the Bay. I cannot wait to see what more this incredible person is capable of!




Makayla Cox

Makayla started with the AAB program in November of 2022, quickly got involved as a Beach Captain and now runs her own beach cleanups every month in Venice though her own non profit, Clean Up the Beach. Did I mention she is a sophomore in High School? She started a secondary project, Be Nice to VeNice to help rid the plastic pollution problem along the boardwalk at its source! Makayla has spent countless hours cleaning the beach, leading CCD sites, educating the public, attending community meetings, and working with elected officials to make Venice and the Los Angeles Beaches a better place for all!


Community Science Super Healer Awards

MPA Watch: Olivia Rose Marie Muñoz

Growing up in North Hollywood Olivia used to daydream about taking a small boat down the LA River to get to the beach. She’s interested in how watersheds work and their impacts on coastal ecosystems, with an emphasis on water quality. She has been a Heal the Bay volunteer for multiple programs for many years. In 2022, she graduated with a B.S. in Oceanography from Cal Maritime, and is applying to graduate schools for next fall to continue her marine studies focusing on water quality and conservation. In her spare time, Olivia enjoys going on adventures, traveling, combing the beach, or just reading a book. She’s currently halfway through reading all of Stephen King’s books.

eDNA: Kate Swanson

Kate has been involved with Heal the Bay’s eDNA sampling events for just about a year now. Kate grew up in the valley and is a current senior in high school. She first became involved with Heal the Bay through beach captaining Nothin’ But Sand cleanups and heard about eDNA during volunteer orientation, signing up the instant they got notice they were back on. The events have brought so much excitement to Kate’s Saturdays and is looking forward to doing more. One of Kate’s favorite memories was at Latigo Point when Crystal and her found a sea hare!


Outreach Super Healer Award

Outreach: John Marshal High School, Club Heal the Bay

JMHS’s Club Heal the Bay has exemplified our efforts to strengthen our youth programming. They have participated in our eDNA events, adopted a beach (and park!), and provided public comment to bring green efforts to LAUSD campuses. They are our most dedicated club, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with them. Thanks Club Heal the Bay, John Marshal High School for all that you do!



Are you ready to begin your volunteer journey with Heal the Bay? Discover all the ways you can work for a safe, clean coastline and watershed!

Take Part

Heal the Bay Reusable is Beautiful. Earth Month 2024

Celebrate Earth Month and all things reusable with Heal the Bay!

Join our “Reusable is Beautiful” Earth Month activities to help you ditch single-use plastic and keep our oceans healthy.

Every year, billions of pounds of single-use plastic flood our oceans, threatening the health of our planet. This month and every month, Heal the Bay is committed to raising awareness about choosing reusable options over single-use plastic and keeping our waterways clean, safe, and beautiful for everyone.

Fun, inspiring activations are happening all month for everyone – individuals, families, schools, and more! Grab your reusable water bottle, sunscreen, and friends for climate action fun near you!

Heal the Bay Earth Month 2024 Calendar of Special Events

👇👇👇SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THE FULL LIST OF EVENTS and get involved this Earth Month with #ReusableIsBeautiful events and activities from Heal the Bay and our partners! 👇👇👇

Get Safety Talk Certified for Earth Month -FREE

Monday, March 25, 2024: VIRTUAL or IN PERSON

Become a Heal the Bay Safety Talk Speaker!

Our fun, impactful Nothin’ But Sand cleanups rely on fantastic volunteers like you! As a Safety Talk Speaker, you’ll educate beachgoers about Heal the Bay’s mission, impact, and safety practices. This is your chance to:

  • Educate thousands of volunteers about Heal the Bay’s work. (e.g., 20,000+ lbs of trash removed in 2023!)
  • Lead confidently by learning best practices for beach cleanups and authentic land acknowledgments.
  • Make a real difference for our coastlines and wildlife.
  • Gain public speaking skills to connect everyone from elementary school kids to the CEO’s of some of the region’s most prominent local brands and the science and policy that fuels Heal the Bay’s impact.

Two-Step Training:

  1. Virtual Safety Talk Certification: March 25, 6:00 PM
  2. In-Person Beach Captain Training: April 20, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Santa Monica Beach, Tower 1550)

Ready to dive in? Sign up today!

 Get Safety Talk Certified

Touch Tanks on Top of The Pier – FREE

Friday, April 5 12 PM -2 PM 

Join our Aquarium experts and LACC for an extra special touch tank on the Santa Monica Pier next to the Heal the Bay Welcome Center! Get close to some incredible aquarium animals and learn all about the fascinating creatures that call our oceans home.


 Plan Your Visit to the Santa Monica Pier

Plastic Pollution Advocacy Training (VIRTUAL) -FREE

Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 6 PM – 7 PM

Calling All Environmental Warriors!

Join Heal the Bay and 5 Gyres for a FREE virtual advocacy training to combat plastic pollution in California. Learn the power of grassroots activism and how to lead impactful campaigns targeting local and state plastic reduction efforts at our VIRTUAL training.

Master the tools to make a difference:

  • Understand key plastic pollution policies.
  • Craft persuasive messages for decision-makers.
  • Make impactful calls to representatives.
  • Submit compelling written comments on legislation.

Become a voice for change:

Gain essential advocacy skills and join the movement for a plastic-free future. Let’s make our voices heard and pave the way for a healthier planet!

Help Heal the Bay 5 Gyres depose the disposables!

Join our plastic policy workshop with Heal the Bay’s Coastal and Marine Scientist, Emily Parker and 5 Gyres’ Policy & Programs Director, Alison Waliszewski. Gain insights on the plastic bag ban, LA’s 2023 plastic laws, Heal Bay’s anti-plastic bills, and why 2024 might be a game-changer for plastic reduction in LA!

 Register to get the Zoom Link

April Nothin’ But Sand Beach Cleanup -FREE

Saturday, April 20, 10 AM – 12 PM @ Santa Monica Pier

Earth Month Beach Cleanup Leveled Up!

Join Heal the Bay’s Nothin’ But Sand at Santa Monica Beach on April 20, 2024 (10 am-12 pm). Fun awaits! Enjoy spin-the-wheel games, trash relay races, and a marine science exploration station, and win #ResusableisBeautiful raffle prizes! All attendees gain FREE ACCESS TO HEAL THE BAY AQUARIUM for the day! Help clean & celebrate a healthier planet with 1000+ other volunteers at LA’s biggest Earth Month cleanup of 2024!

 Register for Nothin’ But Sand

Celebrate Earth Day at Heal the Bay Aquarium 

Saturday, April 20, 11 AM – 4 PM

Dive into Earth Month at Heal the Bay Aquarium! Fun, educational exhibits & live demonstrations await ocean enthusiasts of all ages. Explore the wonders of Santa Monica Bay & meet the fantastic local animals that call it home.

Saturday, April 20, 11 AM – 4 PM

Come to Heal the Bay Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier for a non-stop day of Earth Month fun!

  • Take an Earth Month pledge
  • Enjoy crafts, chalk art, and face painting
  • Learn about our state flower with California Poppy Kits
  • Participate in an Earth Month Scavenger Hunt
  • Collect limited Edition Earth Month Pins
  • Take 20% off reusable items in the gift shop

Join the Earth Month Beach Cleanup to get free entry to the Heal the Bay Aquarium Earth Month Celebration!

 Plan Your Visit

2024 LA City Nature Challenge BioBlitz -FREE

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Heal the Bay’s Safe Clean Water Program returns with an Earth Month BioBlitz! Heal the Bay staff will host two events with the 2024 LA City Nature Challenge, sponsored by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences. Join us on Saturday, April 27th, at Bixby Marshland or Fern Dell in Griffith Park for an afternoon of ecological exploration!


Wake & Dance with DAYBREAKER @ Santa Monica Pier

Saturday, April 28, 2024, 6 AM to 9 AM

Join the DAYBREAKER Peace Tour to the Santa Monica Pier! Rise and shine to help protect what you love. Some proceeds will support Heal the Bay programs that keep our coastal waters and watershed clean and healthy for all.

 Get Your Tickets

Rising Tides Discussion Panel @ Hermosa Beach Community Center -FREE

Sunday, April 28, 2024, 3 PM

Our coastline is shrinking. But what can Los Angeles do about it?

Attend the discussion panel of the year at Hermosa Beach Community Center, “Rising Tides: Exploring LA’s Readiness for Sea Level Rise,to find out.

Join three leading experts on climate change, environmental policy, and community resilience as they sit down to unpack the challenges facing LA’s coast and explore solutions for a more sustainable future:

Discover how fossil fuels impact the Pacific shore and delve into equitable approaches to protecting our communities. RSVP now to reserve your FREE seat!


Stussy x Heal the Bay Collaboration Launch 

Friday, May 3, 2024, 9 AM

Stüssy x Heal the Bay returns with a limited-edition capsule collection launch!  100% of the proceeds from this collaboration will be donated to Heal the Bay to support our marine and coastal watershed protection work!

This exclusive collection of Stüssy x Heal the Bay retail will be available at

Get your shopping cart ready and mark your calendar for the 2024 collection drop on May 3, 2024. Last year’s collection sold out in 15 minutes, raising over $75,000 to protect our coastal waters and watershed.



All Earth-Month-Long at Heal the Bay 

Did you miss out on Earth Day fun? Enjoy these Heal the Bay activations all month long!

Heal the Bay Reusable is Beautiful. Earth Month 2024

 FREE Beach Wheelchair Rentals @ Heal the Bay Aquarium 

April 2024, 9:30 AM – 11 AM

Beach Wheelchair at Santa Monica PierNeed a beach wheelchair to enjoy some fun in the sun? Everyone should be able to enjoy a day at the beach, so come to Heal the Bay Aquarium to access our manual beach wheelchairs, which are available for FREE public rentals.

Pick Up Location Details

Heal the Bay’s Beach Wheelchair rental program helps provide accessibility to one of nature’s most inspiring and critically essential resources and was made possible thanks to funding from The Coastal Conservancy. Learn more about our Beach Wheelchair Rental Program:

Earth Month: Battle of the Babies @ Heal the Bay Aquarium

Join Our Self-guided Beach Cleanup Competition – All Month Long

Are you feeling competitive this Earth Month? Are you ready to defeat the trash on Santa Monica Beach? Then join the Battle of the Babies all month long at Heal the Bay Aquarium!

Lead your team in a self-guided cleanup of Santa Monica Beach, choose which animal you would like to support, and at the end of the month, we’ll tally the total pounds collected by each fandom to see which baby will emerge triumphant!

Stop by Heal the Bay Aquarium to grab a FREE bucket and support your favorite fishy friend: the adorable swell shark pup or the darling California skate baby. This Earth Month, let’s see who emerges victorious in the battle against beach pollution!

Questions? Contact Heal the Bay Aquarium

“Hold the plastic, please!” #Selfie Challenge

Enter for a chance to win Heal the Bay Swag in this social media challenge

Calling all eco-warriors and selfie champions! Help your favorite restaurant ditch plastic for a chance to win awesome Heal the Bay gear .

Here’s the deal:

1) Ask your fave restaurant to “Hold the plastic, please!”

2)Snap a selfie with your HTPP card♻️

3)Post it to social media using #ReuableisBeautiful and tag @healthebay

Win epic Heal the Bay swag for showing your support!

Need a reminder card? Grab one at our #ResuableisBeautiful station, Heal the Bay Aquarium on the Santa Monica Pier, or download a digital one to flash at your next meal.

PSA to Restaurants! LA’s new plastic laws mean less waste and more savings for you! Confused about utensils, takeout containers, or the bag ban? We’ve got all the info on our website. 

Let’s make #EarthMonth plastic-free and selfie-worthy!

Download a Hold the plastic, please! Card

Protect What You Love with a Heal the Bay Member”Ship”

Join our crew! Climb aboard the SS Heal the Bay Membership!

Our Member“Ship” is full of passionate and dedicated Heal the Bay supporters working to ensure that coastal waters and watersheds in Southern California are safe, healthy, and clean for generations to come. Thanks to the generous annual support of our Member“Ship” Crew, we can further our efforts through science, education, community action, and advocacy. Become a member and join our Crew!


$55: Membership for one adult*
$95: Membership for two adults* 

$95: Family Membership for two adults + up to 2 children*

Member” Ship” Includes:

  • Free admission to Heal the Bay Aquarium for one year
  • 25% discount on guest admission tickets
  • 10% discount on retail purchases at the Heal the Bay Aquarium Gift Shop
  • 5% discount on Aquarium Science Camp
  • Heal the Bay’s digital Blue Newsletter
  • AQ Movie Night
  • Special Member-Only Tide Pool Excursions

Become a Member TODAY!

Gear Up for Earth Day with Heal the Bay 

Level up your drip while leveling up the ocean!

Nothing says #ReuseableIsBeautiful this Earth Day like swag from Heal the Bay! Shop comfy appeal, unique gifts, and reusable goods, all for a great cause!

Shop Heal the Bay

Heal the Bay Earth Month 2024 Tabling Calendar 

Check out our list of Earth Month events hosted by some of our favorite social, environmental, and partner organizations across Los Angeles. Stop by Heal the Bay’s Outreach table while you’re enjoying Earth Month fun around Los Angeles County this April.

Gardena Spring Equinox Earth Day Event, Johnson Park, 1200 W 170th St. Gardena, CA, March 17, 9 AM – 12 PM

Pepperdine Earth Day Celebration, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, April 9, CA, 11 AM – 2 PM

Generation Earth/Tree People 2nd Annual Environmental Youth Summit, 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, April 11, 9 AM – 10:15 AM and 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

LA County Sanitation Districts, Earth Day Celebration, 1955 Workman Mill Rd, Whittier, CA, April 13, 1o AM – 2 PM

City of Azusa Outdoor Recreation and Eco Fair, Memorial Park, North Recreation Center Parking Lot, 340 N Orange Ave, Azusa, CA, April 13 10 AM – 1 PM

Tarzana Neighborhood Council 11th Annual Earth Day Festival, Tarzana Park, 5655 Vanalden Ave, Tarzana, CA 91356, April 13, 10 Am – 2 PM

STEAM Expo, 2368 Pearl St, Santa Monica, CA, April 13

Resilient Palisades Earth Day 2024, Palisades Village Green, 15280 Sunset Blvd, Pacific Palisades, CA, April 14, 9 AM – 1 PM

SONY Pictures Entertainment Earth Month, April 18

Wild for the Planet, LA Zoo, 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA, April 20 – April 21, 10 AM – 4 PM

South Bay Parkland Conservancy Earth Day Event, Wilderness Park, Redondo Beach, April 21, 10 AM – 1 PM

CSUDH 2024 Earth Day Festival, April 23, 9 AM – 3 PM

CSU Dominguez Hills 17th Annual Earth Day Festival, 1000 E Victoria St, Carson, CA, 10 AM – 2:30 PM

Loyola High School Earth Week Fair, 1901 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, April 25

Paradise Canyon Earth Week Fair, Paradise Canyon Elementary, 471 Knight Way, La Cañada Flintridge, CA, April 26, 6 PM – 8 PM

2024 Arts and Literacy Festival, Virginia Avenue Park Campus, Santa Monica, April 27, 10 AM – 2 PM

Beverly Hills 21st Annual Earth Day, 9300 Civic Center Dr, Beverly Hills, CA, April 28, 9 AM – 1 PM

 Celebrate the Earth beyond April

APPLY TODAY – 2024 Coastal Clean-Up Day Poster ARTIST

Calling all ocean-loving artists!

Let your artwork advocate for our ocean this Coastal Cleanup Day!

Win $1,000 and see your artwork all over Los Angeles County on the official Heal the Bay Coastal Cleanup Day poster!

Submit a portfolio of your work and a concept for a poster that captures the essence of our theme: “Reusable is Beautiful.”

**Think vibrant colors, powerful messages, and inspiring imagery to showcase the beauty of reusables and the importance of protecting our oceans. **

Show us your vision!

Submissions are accepted until May 31st, 2024. See full details and application here!

Enter to win the opportunity to become our 2024 COASTAL CLEANUP DAY Poster Artist!

Apply Here

Bring Back the Beach Gala

Celebrate #ReusableIsBeautiful


You are cordially invited to our Bring Back the Beach Gala on May 16, 2024.

As a fundraising benefit for Heal the Bay, this exclusive West Coast event welcomes hundreds of business, political, entertainment, and environmental leaders. Reserve your tickets to our biggest event of the year! 

Our 2024 GALA is SINGLE-USE PLASTIC-FREE because at Heal the Bay, we believe  #ReusableIsBeautiful! Help keep single-use plastic out of our watershed when you “BRING BACK THE BEACH” this May.


Coastal Cleanup Day Site Captain Training

Become a Site Captain or Co-Captain and host a Heal the Bay cleanup site in LA County for Coastal Cleanup Day 2024!


LA’s biggest volunteer event returns!

Join Heal the Bay’s Coastal Cleanup Day on Sept 21st, 2024.

In 2023, over 7,000 Heal the Bay volunteers removed over 16,000 lbs. of trash and 400 lbs. of recycling from 97 miles of beach, river, underwater, and trail cleanup sites!  Help us make an even more significant impact in 2024.

Want to lead a cleanup site? Sign up for Site Captain training on Thursday, 5/30/2024, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM. More Site Captain training dates to come.

+The deadline to sign up to be a CCD Site Captain is 7/31/2024.


Make waves for a sustainable future in Greater Los Angeles by making your Earth Month donation to 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!

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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’ (