Heal the Bay Blog

Author: Heal the Bay

On the heels of the 17-million-gallon sewage spill in the Santa Monica Bay on July 11-12, Heal the Bay and the World Surf League—two Santa Monica-based organizations—are partnering to expand Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card with NowCast to give beachgoers more information, more swiftly, about potential risks from poor ocean water quality at California’s most popular beaches and surf spots.

Heal the Bay and the World Surf League (WSL) are announcing a multi-year partnership in support of Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card, activating local surfers to protect the health of 150 million beachgoers in California, and increasing surfing community outreach through social media and local competition events in California.

Summer is here, temperatures are hot, and more people are flocking to the beach. With roughly a thousand miles of shoreline, California has one of the longest and also most diverse coasts of any state in the USA. California offers an incredible array and variety of beaches and waves. Several offer pristine bays with 30-feet visibility underwater, others iconic views and world class waves.

While the waves may look clear, many beachgoers have no idea they might be swimming in a bacteria-polluted area, especially near piers, storm drains, and enclosed harbors with poor water circulation. One in 25 beachgoers will get sick swimming or surfing in polluted water near a flowing storm drain. Youth and seniors are particularly vulnerable to illnesses related to bacterial pollution.

“As a surfer, I have spent a ton of time in the water since I was a little kid. The water quality at my local beaches is something I have always been observant of. Unfortunately, there have been many times where the water quality has seemed very low and I’ve gotten sick from surfing in dirty water. I’m thrilled the World Surf League is partnering with Heal the Bay on the Beach Report Card for California. Everyone deserves access to clean water to surf, swim, and enjoy this precious resource – our one ocean!” says Conner Coffin, WSL Championship Tour surfer.

OAHU, UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 11: Conner Coffin of the United States is eliminated from the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters with an equal 17th finish after placing second in Heat 2 of Round 3 at Pipeline on December 11, 2019 in Oahu, United States. (Photo by Ed Sloane/WSL via Getty Images)

The Beach Report Card is Heal the Bay’s education, advocacy, and public health notification tool for people concerned about the water quality at their favorite beaches across the state of California. The latest beach water quality grades are displayed alongside historical trends. The program also has science and policy initiatives to improve water quality, advance water quality testing methods, and ensure beachgoers have equitable and immediate access to beach water quality information through environmental and public health legislation and regulation.

Dr. Shelley Luce, Heal the Bay CEO & President says, “We’re excited to announce our partnership with the World Surf League. Clean ocean water has multiple benefits. It sustains healthy ecosystems and thriving wildlife, it mitigates impacts from the climate crisis, and it provides a safe place to enjoy the outdoors and cool off. We thank our partners at the World Surf League for working together with us to protect clean water starting in Santa Monica, stretching up and down the California coastline, and rippling out globally.”

The World Surf League is sponsoring the Beach Report Card for three-years, supporting the popular Annual Report, which highlights the coveted Honor Roll list as well as the notorious Beach Bummers list. The World Surf League is also investing in the growth of NowCast, Heal the Bay’s daily water quality prediction program.

“The WSL is incredibly proud to partner with Heal the Bay to provide tools and resources such as the Beach Report Card for all ocean lovers to be informed about water quality prior to heading to their favorite beach. As a global sports league, the future of our sport depends on a healthy ocean. Our focus as a league is to protect the ocean and beaches by inspiring climate action, preventing pollution, and conserving our coasts through campaigns like We Are One Ocean,” said Erik Logan, WSL CEO.

Heal the Bay is expanding NowCast to include 40-50 beaches over the next three years.

the logo for Beach Report Card with NowCast

About Heal the Bay and the Beach Report Card

Heal the Bay is an environmental nonprofit dedicated to making the coastal waters and watersheds in Greater Los Angeles safe, healthy, and clean. We use science, education, community action, and advocacy to fulfill our mission.

Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card is the only comprehensive analysis of coastline water quality in California. We provide water quality grades for more than 700 beaches weekly from Washington to Mexico during the peak beach-going season, with approximately 500 locations in California. Each location is assigned an A to F grade based on the health risks of swimming, surfing, and entering the water at that location.

The Beach Report Card is available for free at and as an app on iPhone and Android devices.

NARRABEEN, AUS - APRIL 20: Conner Coffin of the United States surfing in Heat 3 of the Quarterfinals of the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona on April 20, 2021 in Narrabeen, Australia. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/World Surf League via Getty Images)

About the WSL 

Established in 1976, the World Surf League is the home of the world’s best surfing. A global sports, media and entertainment company, the WSL oversees international tours and competitions, a studios division creating over 500+ hours of live and on-demand content, and via affiliate WaveCo, the home of the world’s largest high performance, human-made wave. Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, the WSL has regional offices in North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and EMEA. The WSL is dedicated to changing the world through the inspirational power of surfing by creating authentic events, experiences, and storytelling to inspire a growing, global community to live with purpose, originality, and stoke.

For more information, please visit


Esta es una historia en desarrollo y les mantendremos actualizados a medida que vayamos teniendo más información. 

¿Cuándo sucedió el vertido?

El vertido de aguas residuales comenzó el 11 de Julio de 2021 a las 7 pm y paró sobre las 5 am del 12 de Julio de 2021. La Oficina de Saneamiento de la ciudad de LA nos dijo que el vertido había parado sobre las 5 am y que todas las aguas residuales ya están siendo tratadas normalmente.

¿Cómo fue de grande?

Al parecer 17 millones de galones de aguas residuales sin tratar se vertieron a través del desagüe de 1 milla, que se encuentra situado directamente enfrente de la planta de tratamiento de aguas Hyperion en El Segundo.

¿Qué playas han sido afectadas?

Ahora mismo Dockweiler State Beach y El Segundo Beach están cerradas al público. La Ciudad de Los Angeles y el Departamento de Salud Pública del Condado de Los Angeles están haciendo pruebas en las playas y el agua de la bahía de Santa Monica. Se puede encontrar más información en la página web del Departamento de Salud Pública del Condado de Los Angeles.

¿Qué puede hacer el público para protegerse?

Recomendamos al público que se mantenga fuera del agua en la Bahía de Santa Monica hasta nuevo aviso. Además, consulte el boletín de calificaciones de las playas para conocer las últimas alertas sobre la calidad del agua del océano en California, y el boletín de calificaciones de río para obtener información sobre la calidad del agua dulce en las pozas del condado de Los Ángeles.

¿Qué problemas causa esto a las personas y a la fauna marina?

Las bacterias y los virus de las aguas residuales no tratadas son extremadamente peligrosas para la gente y traen consigo una variedad de enfermedades. Restos como tampones o basura plástica, cuando quedan sueltos en la bahía, pueden albergar bacterias y pueden enredar a la fauna, aunque parece ser que en este caso ese tipo de restos quedaron filtrados antes de llegar a la bahía.

¿Por qué ha sucedido esto?

Tenemos conocimiento de que la toma de entrada a la planta Hyperion de El Segundo estaba obstruida de forma severa, lo que causó una inundación en las instalaciones. Las aguas residuales salieron de la instalación sin tratar a través de la tubería de 1 milla y el desagüe.

¿Cuál es el origen y cómo podemos hacer que se hagan responsables del vertido? 

Lo que ha pasado es responsabilidad de la Ciudad de Los Angeles y su Oficina de Saneamiento. La ciudad normalmente hace un buen trabajo conteniendo y tratando cientos de millones de galones de aguas residuales cada día – pero cuando se produce un vertido la Ciudad debe actuar deprisa para avisar al público, y debe descubrir y arreglar la causa para prevenir más vertidos.

¿Cómo se pueden prevenir los vertidos de aguas residuales? 

Las mejores medidas preventivas son un buen mantenimiento del sistema y un uso debido de los inodoros por parte del público (no tirando en ellos basura como plásticos).

¿Cada cuanto tiempo suceden estos vertidos de aguas residuales? 

El último vertido de importancia de aguas residuales en el condado de Los Angeles sucedió en 2015. Sin embargo, los vertidos pequeños no son algo especial. Entre 2020 y 2021, 75 vertidos mandaron un total de 346,888 galones a ríos, lagos y arroyos del condado de Los Angeles. Un vertido de 222,542 galones en febrero de 2021 mantuvo todas las playas de Long Beach cerradas; esta es un área monitoreada por el boletín de calificaciones de las playas de Heal the Bay. Un total de 39,621 galones de aguas residuales se vertieron en el río de Los Angeles, y 140 galones en el arroyo de Las Virgenes; ambas vías de agua dulce monitoreadas por el boletín de calificaciones de río de Heal the Bay.

Para más información sobre vertidos de aguas residuales, visite la página web del Departamento de Salud Pública del Condado de Los Angeles.

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A graphic with the beach report card and river report card covers on top of a blue wavy background that looks like water

Heal the Bay releases scientific reports and annual bacterial-pollution rankings for hundreds of beaches in California and dozens of freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County during 2020 – 2021.

The thirty-first annual Beach Report Card study assigns A-to-F letter grades for 500 California beaches based on levels of fecal-indicator bacterial pollution in the ocean measured by County health agencies. In addition, we ranked water quality at 28 freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County during summer 2020 and shared findings from the third annual River Report Card.

Highlights from the Beach Report Card

Guadalupe Dunes during sunset

Hotter days are here! Beach days and river trips are at an all-time high. The good news is California beaches had excellent water quality in summer 2020. 93% of the California beaches monitored by Heal the Bay received an A or B grade, which is on par with the five-year average.

Even so, our 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 high-risk water quality following a rain event. Less rain typically means that reduced amounts of pollutants, including bacteria, are flushed through storm drains and rivers into the ocean. However, this wasn’t the case this past winter. Rainfall across coastal counties in California was 41 percent lower than the historical average. Yet only 57% of California beaches had good or excellent grades during wet weather, which was worse than average. The lower grades are in part due to the high percentage of “first flush” samples in the wet weather dataset.

“As a surfer, I have spent a ton of time in the water since I was a little kid. The water quality at my local beaches is something I have always been observant of. Unfortunately there have been many times where the water quality has seemed very low and I’ve gotten sick from surfing in dirty water. I’m thrilled the World Surf League is partnering with Heal The Bay on the Beach Report Card for California. Everyone deserves access to clean water to surf, swim, and enjoy this precious resource – our one ocean!” –Conner Coffin


Download Beach Report Card

Read Beach Report Card summary en Español


California’s Beach Bummer List
Heal the Bay’s Beach Bummer List ranks the most polluted beaches in California based on levels of harmful bacteria in the ocean. The 2020-2021 Beach Bummer List includes beaches in San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Humboldt, and Santa Cruz Counties.

  1. Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, Tijuana River mouth – San Diego County
  2. Foster City, Erckenbrack Park – San Mateo County
  3. Capitola Beach, west of jetty – Santa Cruz County
  4. Foster City, Gull Park – San Mateo County
  5. Marina del Rey Mother’s Beach, between Lifeguard Tower and Boat dock – Los Angeles County
  6. Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, 3/4 miles north of Tijuana River – San Diego County
  7. Clam Beach County Park at Strawberry Creek – Humboldt County
  8. Foster City, Marlin Park – San Mateo County
  9. Candlestick Point, Windsurfer Circle – San Francisco County
  10. East Beach at Mission Creek – Santa Barbara County

California’s Beach Honor Roll List
Heal the Bay’s Honor Roll List includes 35 California beaches that scored perfect water quality grades year-round (compared to 42 beaches in the prior year). Most beaches on the Honor Roll are in Southern California because many Counties in Central California and Northern California do not sample frequently enough during the winter months. Orange County had the most beaches on the Honor Roll. Los Angeles, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Alameda Counties also had beaches with perfect water quality grades.

  1. Crown Beach, at Sunset Rd. – Alameda County
  2. Royal Palms State Beach – Los Angeles County
  3. Leo Carrillo Beach, at Arroyo Sequit Creek – Los Angeles County
  4. Puerco State Beach, at creek mouth – Los Angeles County
  5. Las Flores State Beach, at Las Flores Creek – Los Angeles County
  6. Broad Beach, at Trancas Creek – Los Angeles County
  7. Escondido State Beach, at Escondido Creek – Los Angeles County
  8. Nicholas Beach, at San Nicholas Canyon Creek – Los Angeles County
  9. Newport Bay, Promontory Point – Orange County
  10. Crystal Cove (CSDOC) – Orange County
  11. Newport Beach, at Orange Street – Orange County
  12. Newport Beach, at 52nd/53rd Street – Orange County
  13. Balboa Beach Pier – Orange County
  14. Balboa Beach, The Wedge – Orange County
  15. Crystal Cove – Orange County
  16. 1000 Steps Beach, at 9th St. – Orange County
  17. North Aliso County Beach – Orange County
  18. Treasure Island Beach – Orange County
  19. Carlsbad, at Encina Creek – San Diego County
  20. Carlsbad, at Palomar Airport Rd. San Diego County
  21. Solana Beach, Tide Beach Park at Solana Vista Dr. – San Diego County
  22. Guadalupe Dunes – Santa Barbara County
  23. El Capitan State Beach – Santa Barbara County
  24. China Beach, at Sea Cliff Ave. – San Francisco County
  25. Ocean Beach, at Lincoln Way – San Francisco County
  26. Sewers at Silver Shoals Dr. – San Luis Obispo County
  27. Morro Bay City Beach, at Atascadero – San Luis Obispo County
  28. Pismo State Beach, 330 yards north of Pier Ave. – San Luis Obispo County
  29. Hollywood Beach, at Los Robles St. – Ventura County
  30. C.I. Harbor, at Hobie Beach Lakeshore Dr. – Ventura County
  31. Oil Piers Beach, south of storm drain – Ventura County
  32. Silverstrand, at Sawtelle Ave. – Ventura County
  33. Ormond Beach, 50 yards north of Oxnard Industrial drain – Ventura County
  34. Ormond Beach, at Arnold Rd. – Ventura County
  35. Faria County Park, at stairs – Ventura County

The North Fork of the San Gabriel River

Highlights from the River Report Card

Heal the Bay graded 28 freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County within the L.A. River, San Gabriel River, and Malibu Creek Watersheds during summer 2020. 70% of the freshwater grades indicated a low risk of illness, 17% indicated a moderate risk of illness, and 13% indicated a high risk of illness.


Download River Report Card

Read River Report Card summary en Español


L.A.’s Freshwater Fails List
Top 9 river recreation sites in Los Angeles County that are high-risk places to swim or boat.

  • 1. Tujunga Wash at Hansen Dam – Upper L.A. River Watershed
  • 2. L.A. River at Rattlesnake Park – L.A. River Watershed: Recreation Zones
  • 3. San Gabriel River Below North and West Forks – San Gabriel River Watershed
  • 4. L.A. River at Middle of Sepulveda Basin Recreation Zone – L.A. River Watershed: Recreation Zones
  • 5-6. Bull Creek – Upper L.A. River Watershed
  • 5-6. Lake Balboa Boat Ramp – Upper L.A. River Watershed
  • 7. Lake Balboa Outlet – Upper L.A. River Watershed
  • 8. L.A. River at Balboa Blvd. – L.A. River Watershed: Recreation Zones
  • 9. Switzer Falls – Upper L.A. River Watershed

L.A.’s Freshwater Honor Roll List
Top 10 river recreation sites in Los Angeles County that are low-risk places to swim or boat.

  • 1-8. San Gabriel River East Fork at Graveyard Canyon – San Gabriel River Watershed
  • 1-8. L.A. River at Benedict St. (formerly Frogspot) – L.A. River Watershed: Recreation Zones
  • 1-8. Gould Mesa – Upper L.A. River Watershed
  • 1-8. Hansen Dam Lake – Upper L.A. River Watershed
  • 1-8. San Gabriel River Lower North Fork – San Gabriel River Watershed
  • 1-8. Sturtevant Falls – Upper L.A. River Watershed
  • 1-8. San Gabriel River Upper North Fork – San Gabriel River Watershed
  • 1-8. Big Tujunga Creek at Vogel Flats – Upper L.A. River Watershed
  • 8-10. San Gabriel River Upper East Fork – Upper L.A. River Watershed
  • 8-10. San Gabriel River Upper West Fork – San Gabriel River Watershed

Equity and Access
The COVID-19 pandemic, a record-setting wildfire season, and extreme heat during summer 2020 highlighted the dire need for equity in our 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 and limited access to open space.

“A day at the beach and the river shouldn’t make anyone sick,” said Dr. Shelley Luce, President and CEO of Heal the Bay. “With the closures, stress, and uncertainty of the pandemic, it is no surprise that people sought out our local waters in 2020. While we’re thrilled about the excellent water quality across California, our marine ecosystems are still threatened by climate change and other pollution sources. This is alarming as we expect people to increasingly seek out ocean shorelines and freshwater swimming holes to cool off as temperatures rise. Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card and River Report Card give access to the latest water quality information and are a critical part of our science-based advocacy work in support of strong environmental and public health policies that improve the health and resilience of our ocean, our rivers, and our communities.”

Tips to stay safe at ocean and freshwater areas

  • View and for the latest water quality information.
  • Avoid shallow, enclosed beaches and freshwater areas 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.

About Heal the Bay
Heal the Bay is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1985. We use science, education, community action, and advocacy to fulfill our mission to protect coastal waters and watersheds in Southern California. 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.

About Beach Report Card
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 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 iPhone and Android devices.

The Beach Report Card is made possible in part through generous support from SIMA Environmental Fund, Swain Barber Foundation, 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 we have 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 made possible in part by generous support from Alice C. Tyler Perpetual Trust and Garfield Foundation.

Media inquiries only please: Contact us

The Beach Report Card is made in partnership with World Surf League.

the logo for Beach Report Card with NowCast

Guadalupe Dunes during sunset

Resumen ejecutivo

Las playas de California tuvieron una excelente calidad de agua durante los meses de verano del 2020. De más de 500 playas en todo el estado, el 93% obtuvieron buenas calificaciones (A y B). Las precipitaciones del año pasado estuvieron drásticamente por debajo del promedio, lo que generalmente conlleva a una mejor calidad del agua debido a las cantidades reducidas de contaminantes que fluyen hacia el océano. Sin embargo, las calificaciones durante la temporada de lluvias fueron peores al promedio en este año, probablemente debido al hecho de que la mayoría de los datos durante la temporada de lluvias se recopilaron cuando se registraron las primeras lluvias (que son las más importantes) las cuales llevan más contaminación.

• La desembocadura del río Tijuana y la playa que se encuentra a menos de una milla al norte se encuentran en nuestra lista de las Peores Playas. Estas playas se ven afectadas por las aguas residuales que fluyen desde el río Tijuana y de la Planta de Tratamiento Punta Bandera. Las aguas residuales tienen su origen en la infraestructura del alcantarillado deteriorado e insuficiente en la ciudad de Tijuana.

• El condado de San Mateo continúa luchando con la calidad del agua, ya que tres playas en el área de Foster City se encuentran en la lista de las Peores Playas: Erckenbrack Park, Gull Park y Marlin Park. Erckenbrack Park apareció en la lista de las peores playas el año pasado junto con otras cinco playas del condado de San Mateo. Cuatro de esas peores playas del 2019 no fueron monitoreados en absoluto en 2020. Esto es alarmante ya que este tramo de costa ha experimentado altos niveles de contaminación fecal y es muy popular entre los bañistas que ahora no tienen información sobre la potencial contaminación.

• Capitola Beach en el Condado de Santa Cruz es la playa número tres en la lista de este año. El arroyo de Soquel Creek desemboca en el océano cerca de esta playa, descargando bacterias contaminantes de toda la cuenca. Esta playa ha sido un fastidio desde que se lanzó el Boletín de Calificaciones de Playas.

• La unica Peor Playa del condado de Los Ángeles es la palaya Mother’s Beach en Marina Del Rey, que no es ajena a la lista de las playas más contaminadas del estado. Esta playa está encerrada y experimenta poca acción de las olas, por lo que la contaminación bacteriana no se elimina facilmente.

• Clam Beach en el condado de Humboldt ha recibido el estatus de la Peor Playa en siete de los últimos 11 años. La calidad del agua en esta playa del norte de California se ve afectada negativamente por la escorrentía agrícola que fluye hacia el océano a través de los arroyos de Patrick Creek y Strawberry Creek.

• El Candlestick Point de San Francisco en Windsurfer Circle regresa a la lista después de una pausa de siete años. Candlestick Point se encuentra en la Bahía de San Francisco, y aunque no es un área encerrada, es probable que no experimente tanta circulación de agua como una playa de mar abierto.

• East Beach en Santa Bárbara está haciendo su primera aparición en la lista de las Peores Playas. La contaminación bacteriana del área de Santa Bárbara fluye en el océano hacia la playa de East Beach a través del arroyo de Mission Creek.

Las playas de Oregon no fueron monitoreadas con la frecuencia suficiente para recibir una calificación este verano, y no se monitorearon sus playas durante los meses de invierno. Solo cuatro condados de Oregon recibieron calificaciones durante la temporada de lluvias, que fueron mediocres y muy por debajo del promedio en temporada lluviosa del estado de 82% que recibieron calificaciones de A y B.

Las calificaciones durante la temporada seca de verano en el estado deWashington fueron excelentes y el 96% de las playas recibieron calificaciones de A y B. Las calificaciones en temporada lluviosa fueron excepcionales y por encima del promedio, con un 91% que recibieron calificaciones de A y B. Las playas del estado de Washington no fueron monitoreadas durante los meses de invierno, por lo que no se pudieron calcular las calificaciones durante la temporada seca de invierno.

El verano 2020 fue el primer año en que las playas de Tijuana, México se incluyeron en el Boletín de Calificaciones de Playas. Las playas de El Faro y El Vigía recibieron una B para las calificaciones durante la temporada seca de verano, mientras que Playas Blanca recibió una D. Las calificaciones durante la temporada seca de invierno mostraron un patrón similar donde El Faro y El Vigía recibieron una D, y Playas Blanca recibió una F. Las tres playas recibieron F para la temporada lluviosa. Este tramo de costa recibe a millones de visitantes cada año y se ve muy afectado por la contaminación de las aguas residuales durante todo el año, incluso durante la temporada seca. La fuente principal de contaminación es la planta de tratamiento Punta Bandera ubicada al sur de Tijuana, que regularmente libera aguas residuales no tratadas o parcialmente tratadas al océano.

El Boletín de Calificaciones de Playas se enfoca en la calidad del agua de las playas océanicas. Sin embargo, monitorear la calidad del agua en los sitios de agua dulce, como ríos, lagos y arroyos, y hacer que esa información esté disponible para el público también es importante para proteger la salud pública en sitios recreacionales. Heal the Bay creó el Boletín de Calificaciones de Ríos (River Report Card) para informar al público de la calidad del agua en nuestros ríos y arroyos. Heal the Bay recolecta muestras y analiza la calidad del agua en seis sitios recreacionales en el condado de Los Angeles, recopila datos de monitoreo de 22 stios adicionales del condado de Los Ángeles; y transforma los datos en grados codificados por colores de fácil comprensión. Antes de dirigirse a una área de recreación de agua dulce en el condado de Los Ángeles, consulte nuestro River Report Card en , que se actualiza regularmente durante los meses de verano.

Heal the Bay también patrocina el Proyecto de Ley 1066 de la Asamblea (Bloom) en California, que es el primer paso para garantizar que los sitios de recreación de agua dulce en el estado sean monitoreados para detectar contaminación fecal y que se informe a la comunidad.

The North Fork of the San Gabriel River

Resumen ejecutivo

Heal the Bay desarrolló el Boletín de Calificaciones de Ríos (River Report Card) para brindar información de fácil manejo sobre la calidad del agua a las personas que visitan las áreas recreacionales de agua dulce en el condado de Los Ángeles. Debido a que no existe un requisito estatal para el monitoreo de la contaminación fecal en las áreas recreacionales, los datos de calidad de agua que están disponibles a menudo son inconsistentes y difíciles de interpretar para el público. El Boletín de Calificaciones de Ríos nos proporciona información sobre la calidad del agua con los colores verde, amarillo y rojo para ayudar a las personas a tomar decisiones sobre dónde y cuándo es seguro meterse en el agua. Para el 2020, proporcionamos información en línea sobre las calificaciones de verano de 28 sitios en el condado de Los Angeles.

• De los 28 sitios calificados en el 2020, el 70% de las calificaciones emitidas fueron de color verde, el 17% amarillo y el 13% rojo.

• Ocho sitios en el condado de L.A. donde se puede nadar, no excedieron los límites bacterianos, de la cual obtuvimos calificaciones 100% ecológicas. Uno de estos sitios está ubicado en el canal principal del río de L.A., que es el primero para el Boletín de Calificaciones de Ríos.

• Nueve sitios recreacionales llegaron a nuestra lista de los Peores Sitios de agua dulce, lo que significa que experimentaron una mayor contaminación fecal durante el verano del 2020. La mayoría de estos lugares están ubicados en entornos urbanos.

• Tujunga Wash en Hansen Dam sigue teniendo problemas con la calidad del agua, lo que le valió el primer lugar en la lista de los Peores Sitios de agua dulce por tercer año consecutivo.

• El río San Gabriel por debajo de la convergencia de las bifurcaciones norte y oeste, fue lamentablemente la primera falta que tiene esta cuenca en el Boletín de Calificaciones del Ríos.

• Switzer Falls también hizo una aparición sorpresa en la lista de los Peores Sitios de agua dulce, llegando así, a la posición número nueve. Este sitio donde se puede nadar está ubicado en las montañas y ha tenido un historial de buena calidad de agua.

• El área del lago Balboa en la parte alta de la cuenca del río L.A. tuvo otro año decepcionante en términos de calidad de agua. La rampa para botes de Lake Balboa, la salida de Lake Balboa y el arroyo de Bull Creek entraron en nuestra lista de los Peores Sitios de agua dulce.

• Hermit Falls no fue monitoreado por LASAN (LA Saneamiento y Medio Ambiente) en el verano del 2020, pero se agregó el arroyo de Big Tujunga Creek en el sector de Vogel Flats como un lugar de monitoreo.

• Las ubicaciones de las zonas de recreación del Río de L.A. (L.A. River Recreation Zone) fueron monitoreadas durante el verano a pesar de estar cerradas al público. Además, debido a las limitaciones relacionadas con la pandemia, Heal the Bay no pudo monitorear el río de L.A. a la altura de la calle Benedict St. (anteriormente llamado Frogspot), así como también los desagües pluviales en Elysian Valley.

• Las áreas con desarrollo urbano tendían a tener calificaciones más bajas que las áreas naturales, y la mayoría de los sitios en esta lista se encuentran en áreas de paisajes urbanos. Los sitios en la cuenca del río San Gabriel y la cuenca superior del río de L.A. se encuentran en áreas menos desarrolladas y están menos afectadas por la escorrentías urbanas.

Heal the Bay, lidera ahora el esfuerzo para lograr la protección de la salud a las personas que se recrean en agua dulce en el estado. Estamos emocionados de anunciar que el asambleísta Richard Bloom, en asociación con Heal the Bay, ha introducido una ley que comenzará a abordar la falta de monitoreo y estandarización de la calidad del agua en áreas recreacionales – Proyecto de Ley 1066 de la Asamblea (AB 1066). Esta pieza de legislación propone encomendar al Consejo de Monitoreo de la Calidad del Agua de California para que defina e identifique lo sitios de recreación de agua dulce en todo el estado, así como recomendaciones para un programa de monitoreo apropiado para estos sitios. Esto es un paso fundamental para lograr mayor protección a la salud de los visitantes de sitios recreacionales. Heal the Bay continuará apoyando la ley AB 1066 y planeamos proponer una legislación futura que requerirá monitoreo y advertencias públicas para las áreas recreacionales de agua dulce.

Además del Boletín de Calificaciones de Ríos, Heal the Bay está trabajando activamente para evitar que la contaminación ingrese a nuestras vías fluviales. En el 2020, Heal the Bay lanzó una campaña llamada “Take L.A. by Storm” para apoyar a los nuevos defensores del medio ambiente y su participación en el proceso de los permisos MS4 para responsabiizar a quienes descargan contaminantes. El sistema de permisos se creó para ayudar a regular la cantidad de contaminantes que los dueños de permisos estaban poniendo en el medio ambiente y poder garantizar que las descargas contaminantes disminuyan con el tiempo. Desafortunadamente, ha habido una falta de responsabilidad en el programa de permisos MS4, lo que ha permitido a los dueños de permisos retrasarse en el cronograma para reducir las descargas contaminantes.

The Los Angeles Regional Board has neglected their mission – to protect and enhance our water resources – by making polluting easier for stormwater dischargers rather than requiring action. It’s time to remind them of their responsibility to regulate stormwater pollution and protect LA communities. Register for our Stormwater Advocacy Training on Wednesday, June 30 at 6PM.

Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), pollution runoff into surface waters like rivers, lakes, and oceans must be reduced to protect both public and environmental health. Although the CWA is federal law, most of the work to implement and enforce this law is delegated to local agencies. In the Los Angeles area, this work falls to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board).

The discharge of polluted stormwater in Los Angeles is regulated by the Regional Board through the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit. Cities and Counties are permittees under the MS4 Permit, and are responsible for their polluted stormwater runoff. This MS4 Permit has the potential to be incredibly impactful when it comes to reducing water pollution in LA because it not only addresses the main source (stormwater), but it also covers a total of 99 permittees – the Counties of LA and Ventura, LA County Flood Control District, Ventura County Watershed Protection District, and the 95 cities that fall within the boundaries of the LA Regional Board.

Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board jurisdictional boundaries.

The MS4 permit is updated every five years; however, the last permit was approved in 2012 so we are already four years behind schedule. And unfortunately, loopholes in the 2012 MS4 Permit actually allowed for degradation of our water resources over the past decade, rather than requiring the reduction of stormwater pollution, as it should have done. Leniency in the permit allowed for unacceptably slow implementation of stormwater plans, which means that surface water quality is not good in Los Angeles, it has not improved since 2012, and it has even gotten worse in some areas. This continued discharge of polluted stormwater has also not been properly enforced, providing little incentive for permittees to do better.  

Everyone deserves safe and clean water, and a healthy environment to live in. It is the job of the Regional Board to preserve and enhance water quality in the Los Angeles Region for the benefit of present and future generations by implementing and enforcing the CWA. However, the Regional Board failed to uphold this important mission when they adopted the ineffective 2012 MS4 Permit, and more recently when they authorized multiple water quality deadline extensions.

It appears that some members of the regional board are more concerned with making compliance easier for the permittees, regardless of what that means for water quality and community health. We know that addressing stormwater pollution is no easy task. It takes significant funding and time to build projects; but even so, much more could have been done over the past 30 years. We cannot afford to allow another 30 years to pass before we start to see better water quality. We need the Regional Board to do their job to protect our waters. We are urging them to adopt a new MS4 Permit that is straightforward, measurable, multi-benefit, actionable, reinvesting in communities, and transparent – a SMMART Permit! That is the type of permit that nearly 30 community based organizations and environmental groups asked for last December when the draft permit was released. Unfortunately, the current draft of the permit mirrors that ineffective 2012 MS4 Permit, which does not satisfy these important SMMART criteria.

The good news is that Los Angeles does have the necessary tools to make great strides in reducing stormwater pollution. Cities and Counties have had over 30 years to make and adjust stormwater plans, and, even with the budget crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many opportunities for project funding through local programs, state funding, and even federal funding with the new Water Infrastructure Act. The tools are available, but we need a SMMART MS4 Permit that will urge cities to pick up those tools and do something amazing with them. 

Examples of multi-benefit and nature-based stormwater capture projects that can reduce stormwater pollution while also providing many other community and ecosystem investments such as recreational opportunities, climate resiliency, or new habitat open space.

The  MS4 Permit must reflect the needs and priorities of our communities. That’s why we need YOU! If you did not have a chance to sing up to speak before the July 1 deadline, send your written statement to Annelisa Moe by 12:00 PM on Thursday 7/8 to have your statement read into the record for you by a Heal the Bay staff member.


Juneteenth commemorates the promise of freedom and recognizes the achievements of African American and Black people, while truthfully acknowledging and reflecting on the time in American history when enslaved people were freed nationwide. Take part in a Juneteenth activity near you. Now, let’s learn more about this holiday and its connection to the coast.

The history of Juneteenth

The Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln went into effect in 1863, but did not instantly free all enslaved people in the United States. Many enslavers withheld information or migrated toward Texas in an effort to thwart the Union army’s enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation.

On June 19, 1865—two and a half years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation—the Union army arrived in Galveston, Texas and issued an order proclaiming the emancipation of enslaved people there. This date reflects one of the final phases of official emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. The year after, Black people in Texas organized the first “Jubilee Day” aka “Emancipation Day” on June 19. The observance of June 19 as Juneteenth (a blending of “June” and “Nineteenth”) is now a tradition that has spread across the United States and world.

Historically, the Juneteenth holiday has been observed through community festivals, concerts, picnics, fishing, outdoor sports, prayer services, family gatherings, and more activities. Texas was the first state to officially observe the holiday in 1980. As of 2021, 47 states and the District of Columbia officially recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or day of observance; and, there is a big push to make it a national holiday.1,2,3

The legacy of slavery on the coast

The legacy of slavery pervaded long after the 13th amendment was ratified in 1865. Locally, “in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Black people were harassed and kicked off of beaches surrounding Santa Monica. Nationwide, practices like redlining – the division and ranking of neighborhoods based on race and socioeconomic status – prevented people in low-income communities and communities of color from buying homes, properties, or establishing businesses along the coast. On top of that, Black communities were subject to additional discriminatory and unjust rent practices. The impact of these racist and discriminatory policies is clear today, as the demographic of those who live on and near the coast is primarily wealthy and white. Now, gentrification continues to cause the displacement of low-income communities and communities of color that live near the coast, parks, greenspace, and the LA River – and Black people still face harassment while trying to enjoy nature.4

Honor Juneteenth

Here are events honoring Juneteenth on June 19, 2021 in Santa Monica, California.

Black Out at Bay Street with Black Surfers Collective

Saturday, June 19, 2021
Free & Outdoors at Bay Street beach
Santa Monica, California

Share some stoke. Share some love. Black Surfers Collective is hosting a Black Out at Bay Street on Juneteenth. Join the gathering to eat, laugh, tell stories, catch a few waves and celebrate fellowship. While our annual Nick Gabaldón Day celebration is postponed to October 9, 2021, we’ll be honoring Juneteenth with this informal, relaxing beach day at Nick Gabaldón’s home break in Santa Monica. Nick Gabaldón (1927-1951) was a pioneering surfer of African American and Mexican American descent. He was a Santa Monica local and the first documented surfer of color in the Santa Monica Bay.

Learn more

Wade in the Water: A Tiny Film Fest

Saturday, June 19, 2021
Free & Outdoors at Historic Belmar Park
Santa Monica, CA

Wade in the Water: A Tiny Film Fest on Juneteenth features the premiere of BELONGING, a Belmar History + Art site-specific film honoring early African Americans in Santa Monica. This in-person outdoor screening of short films celebrates Black culture and the water. From spiritual rituals to migration and sports, water is an integral part of how people rejuvenate and restore joy. Before the screening, enjoy food trucks, music by DJ Moni Vargas, and the history panels and sculpture that make up the Belmar History + Art exhibition. At the close of the event, free prizes will be raffled off! Bring your blankets or beach chairs for lounging on the field. Limited seating will be provided for accessibility. Please note: event organizers are following the COVID LA County Health public health and safety guidelines that are in place at the time of the event.

  • Field Entrance: On 4th Street between Olympic and Pico Blvds., at 1840 4th Street, Santa Monica CA 90401
  • $5 Parking: Civic Center Parking Structure, corner of 4th Street and Olympic Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90401
  • Metro: 8 minute walk from the Downtown Santa Monica Station

The City of Santa Monica’s 29th Annual Juneteenth Event

Saturday, June 19, 2021
Free & Online at 10:30am-Noon

The theme for this year’s virtual 29th Annual Juneteenth event “The Change is Here” is inspired by the famous Sam Cook song that foretold A Change is Gonna Come. It was also developed as a response to the outpouring of calls for change locally and nationally toward a more equitable society. Similarly, Santa Monica’s Juneteenth event has been a voice of change within the community since 1992 thanks to the leadership of LaVerne Ross, whose family had been recognizing Juneteenth in Texas before she and her family relocated to Santa Monica in the 1950s.

The program’s Master of Ceremonies will be spoken word artist Sean Raymond Hill and the presentation will include:

  • Traditional opening drum call performed by Chazz Ross and dancer Teresa Smith
  • A selection of classic and original soul and blues pieces performed by Harold Wherry and the Blue Breeze Band
  • Gospel favorites performed by Kaleo & the Voice of One Singers featuring Dr. Henry Jackson
  • The annual presentation by Mayor Himmelrich of the Juneteenth Proclamation to LaVerne Ross founder and visionary of the Juneteenth event in Santa Monica

More information about this free community event online event at, Virginia Avenue Park’s Facebook page (vapark), by emailing or by calling 310-458-8688.

Learn more

Juneteenth Heritage Event

Saturday, June 19, 2021
Free & Outdoors at Calvary Baptist Church
1502 20th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90404

The grounds of the oldest African-American Baptist church in Santa Monica will be transformed into a place centered around African American heritage, achievement, equity, joy, and culture.

Learn more

Free Admission to Heal the Bay Aquarium in honor of Juneteenth

Bat Stars at Heal the Bay Aquarium

Saturday, June 19, 2021
Free & Indoors/Outdoors at Heal the Bay Aquarium
1600 Ocean Front Walk

Santa Monica, California

In collaboration with Black Surfers Collective and the City of Santa Monica, Heal the Bay is honoring Juneteenth by opening our doors to the inside of Heal the Bay Aquarium free of charge from Noon to 4:00pm on Saturday, June 19. We’re offering free admission to Heal the Bay Aquarium in honor of Juneteenth to provide space and opportunities for education and enjoyment at the Santa Monica Pier.

Learn more




We’re celebrating Pride Month with an aquatic-themed virtual drag show! Join us for the first-ever Queers on the Pier on Friday, June 25 at 7PM PT.

Buy My Ticket

Be prepared to have your wigs snatched by an amazing cast of performers and celebrate inclusivity in environmental spaces through representation and aquatic-themed drag art and dance. All folx are welcome in the outdoors no matter their sexual orientation or identity. Let’s celebrate the bridge between the Queer Community and Environmentalism.

In partnership with SaMo Pride—and just in time for Pride Month🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️—Heal the Bay is excited to present our first-ever Queers on the Pier virtual event! This is an adults only (18+) show streaming on June 25 from Heal the Bay Aquarium at the Santa Monica Pier.

A variety of marine-inspired drag acts will showcase environmental issues connected to the ocean. In between acts, there’ll be interviews with professionals within the Queer community, highlighting both their voices and their work. Additionally, we will feature informative segments discussing queerness in the natural world, specifically in the ocean.  The show will star burlesque company QWN, with performers Ricky ‘Merkin, Coochiano Pavornaughtti, Beyond Existence, Katinka, and Annie Malé. Please join us on June 25, 2021 at 7PM PT and let’s slay summer 2021 like the Queens we are!

The Meaning of Queerness:

Queerness: n. The state or condition of being strange. The term “queer” has a number of definitions, but historically the term “queer’ has been used in a derogatory way to dehumanize, harm, and humiliate members of the LGBTQIA+ community. In today’s society, any sexual orientation other than heterosexual is scrutinized, invalidated, and othered. Like most things in life however, sexual orientation exists on a spectrum and to have variations in sexual behavior is a naturally occurring phenomena. Many members of the LGBTQIA+ community have reclaimed the term “queer” as an all-encompassing expression to include all of the various members of the community, and that is how we at Heal the Bay are aiming to utilize this term as well.

Radical inclusion and increased queer representation are the essence of this show, and Queers on the Pier will deliver this through performance art, interviews with queer scientists, and with talks on queerness that exists in our ocean. Welcome to the Show!

Get Tickets

Plus, swing by in-person or on @HealtheBay’s Instagram Saturday 6/12 and 6/19 at 11AM for a Drag Queen Storytime for kids! We are stoked to have Facisha Farce reading at Heal the Bay Aquarium on 6/12 and Ruthless Envy on 6/19.

Thank you to ETC Hotels and Avocado Mattress for sponsoring this event.




Yes, that’s right. We’re reopening Heal the Bay Aquarium! Come visit our outdoor patio experience on Saturday, April 24 and Sunday, April 25 from 12pm to 4pm for our Aquarium’s Earth Day Celebration.


The health and safety of our community and staff are our number one priority. When you plan a visit, follow our COVID-19 guidelines and reserve your tickets in advance. Heal the Bay Aquarium is located at 1600 Ocean Front Walk in Santa Monica, California – under the Santa Monica Pier.

When you visit our new outdoor patio exhibits, you’ll get to explore local marine animal exhibits, study a gray whale rib bone, learn about ocean pollution and what we can do to prevent it, snag a sustainable souvenir from the Gift Shop, and more!

Discover your inner marine scientist at the Sharks & Rays and the Tide Pool animal exhibits. Sharks & Rays demonstrates the full lifecycle of sharks, and features baby swell shark pups. Observe the development of this important native species as they grow from egg to pup, and learn about all the local sharks that live in Santa Monica Bay. The Tide Pool display allows you to get up close and see local tidepool creatures like sea cucumbers, bat stars, hermit crabs, and marine snails.

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Swim by our Watershed exhibit to learn about the Los Angeles ecosystem and view California native plants that are found in these habitats. Check the water quality grade at your favorite beach with our Beach Report Card, find out how you can take the Climate Action Challenge, and take action to #SkipTheStuff at our Plastic Pollution exhibit. A visit to the Aquarium will give you a greater understanding of the ocean, and inspire stewardship of the marine environment and its inhabitants.

We’ll have fun, eco-friendly crafts and activities you can take home, and beach cleanup kits available to purchase, so you can continue to Heal the Bay, the ocean, and the planet even after your visit.

Plus, you can bring the memories home with a souvenir from our Aquarium Gift Shop. Check out zero-waste goodies, plushies, green travel items, limited edition Heal the Bay gear, and more. Every purchase directly supports our marine education and clean water programs.

 Keep Making Waves with Heal the Bay Aquarium: 

Exciting advancements are happening right now when it comes to tackling the climate crisis. Global action continues to move forward with the Paris Climate Accord, as the US re-enters this agreement with a renewed focus on climate justice. California continues to push climate progress with legislation like SB467, which would ban the most dangerous types of oil drilling and fracking and introduce health and safety setbacks across the state. And right here in Southern California, the City of LA is finalizing plans to achieve 100% Clean Energy by 2035. But in each of these cases, the question remains: Are we doing enough? 

While we are excited about the progress that is being made globally and locally, we can still step back and question if our goals are robust enough to actually achieve climate resiliency and justice, if decision makers are doing what is necessary to achieve those goals, and if big industries (oil, gas, plastics, etc.) are being held accountable. 

Worldwide, we are spewing 152 million tons of human-made global warming pollution like CO2 into the thin shell of our atmosphere every day, causing average temperatures to rise and throwing natural processes off track. 

CO2 levels passed 420 parts per million (PPM) for the first time in April 2021. This unfortunate milestone means we’re halfway toward doubling pre-industrial CO2 levels.⁠ And, we are rapidly approaching the 1.5°C climate tipping point that makes it more difficult to sustain healthy natural systems. If we continue “business as usual” we are on a fast-track to double our CO2 levels by 2060, and the world will be 3°C warmer on average, which would mean significant food shortages, more intense droughts and wildfires, and more frequent deadly urban heat waves.⁠

⁠Oceans have helped to buffer this steady pollution stream by absorbing ¼ of our CO2 emissions, but this has wreaked havoc on our marine ecosystems with sea temperature rise and ocean acidification.⁠

Tackling the climate crisis is a massive undertaking that may leave many of us with climate anxiety, wondering what one single person can do.

But the truth is that we are not alone. Together, our actions can make huge waves. Whether you are starting with small changes at home, or playing your part in critical systemic change by signing petitions or calling political representatives, your actions play an essential role in this transformative time! 

Take the Climate Challenge

As we continue our struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of life in general, it is a privilege to have the time, energy, and financial resources to make environmentally conscious choices and take action against climate change. Yet for many communities the decision to take climate action now or later can mean the difference between life and death. 

So let’s do our best to get creative and be intentional with our actions and resources. Whether you have money, time, creativity, passion, or something else entirely your own, we all have a unique contribution to make in the fight against climate change. 

Start by picking one action you can take today. 

Don’t stop there! Consider the skills, experiences, and resources you have to offer and create a personal list of climate actions. And because Every Day is Earth Day, take this list with you throughout the year, and do what you can when you can with what you have. 

Here are some ideas to choose from to get you started with your personalized climate challenge…

Where We Live

  • Pick up trash around your neighborhood 
  • Ditch single-use plastic and switch to reusables at home
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle our waste – yes the order matters! 
  • Remove any hardscape or lawn on your property and replace it with a vegetable garden or drought tolerant native vegetation 
  • Start or join a community garden
  • Sign up for Green Power or install solar panels
  • Reduce your energy needs 
    • Turn off lights, unplug unused electronics, and swap out old lights with LEDs (once the bulbs burn out)
    • Bring in a professional to insulate your home, or find simple swaps around the house like adding thick curtains around your windows  
    • Set your thermostat for maximum energy (and cost) savings, or regulate temperature without a thermostat by opening/closing windows and using those thick curtains
    • Wash clothes in cold water, and hang dry rather than using the dryer
  • Decrease your water usage

How We Commute

  • Telecommute if it is an option
  • Choose public transportation
  • Walk or skateboard for shorter distances
  • Ride a bicycle
  • Support projects that improve access to alternative and active transportation 
  • If you must drive
    • Carpool
    • Invest in a hybrid or electric vehicle
    • Use car sharing services with electric vehicles
    • Make sure your vehicle is in tip top shape for optimal efficiency (secure gas cap, inflate tires, etc.)

What We Eat

What We Learn

How We Vote

  • Vote in local, statewide and national elections!
  • Support just and equitable environmental policies in support of:  
    • Climate resiliency
    • A tax on carbon
    • The end of fossil fuels
    • Regenerative agriculture
    • Renewable energy
    • A reduction in plastic waste
  • Be an advocate
    • Attend and give public comments at local Agency, City Council, or County Board of Supervisor meetings 
    • Send a letter to your representatives so they know climate action is important to you
    • Participate in public demonstrations and rallies
    • Sign petitions
    • Create climate inspired art and share it with the world
  • Join existing efforts by Heal the Bay and partner groups to demand climate action now 

Questions about any of these possible actions? Contact Annelisa Moe here at Heal the Bay for more information or support in your advocacy work!