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Heal the Bay Blog

The only thing our Water Quality Scientists love more than “Safe Clean Water”, is love! Here’s Heal the Bay’s list of the cuddliest spots for couples, friends, first dates, and everything in between, along the local California shoreline.

Forget crowded restaurants and overpriced (environmentally unfriendly) roses: Unveil the perfect Valentine’s Day with sparkling waters and sandy toes! ️

This year, ditch tradition and escape with your someone special to a breathtaking beach paradise right here in Southern California. Picture yourselves strolling along the shore at sunset, the sky ablaze with color. Sounds pretty dreamy, right?

But wait, there’s more! We’re not just talking about beaches. We’ve curated a list of secluded, romantic havens (including beaches, lakes, and rivers) with A+ water quality ratings and positive environmental impacts that will warm the heart and beckon for exploration. No murky waves or questionable cleanliness here – just lovely local waterside wonders perfect for making unforgettable memories.

Whether you crave classic California sunsets or romantic river staycations, our list has the perfect destination for your love story, adventure with a friend, or self-love solo escape into the outdoors. So, pack your beach bag, grab your sweetheart, and get ready to dive into a Valentine’s Day unlike any other!

Ready to discover your ideal romantic beach escape? Your next friendly freshwater getaway? The perfect LA lakeside love nest? Scroll down and let the adventure begin!

Note: Many of these beaches contain hikes, PV trails, bike paths and pathways that may have recently closed due to land movement and recent storm events. Please check the Los Angelese County Park and Recreation website before visiting any trails and heed any closure signs.  

Here are the top spots we love for love (and their great Beach Report Card water quality grades too!):

Point Dume State Beach and Natural Preserve, Malibu

Source: Heal the Bay MPA Watch Team (https://healthebay.org/mpa/)

What we love about it:Prepare to be mesmerized by two miles of scenic bluff trails at Point Dume State Beach and Nature Preserve. Whether you’re seeking a romantic stroll hand-in-hand or an invigorating hike, these trails offer breathtaking ocean views encircling a Marine Protected Area where wildlife thrives. Parking is a breeze at Point Dume. A conveniently located lot sits right next to the preserve, and additional free parking options are available along Westward Beach Rd. and Grasswood Ave. This accessibility makes Point Dume ideal for beach lovers, hikers, and anyone seeking a nature escape. 

What to do here: Embark on diverse hiking trails, each offering unique perspectives. Look out for curious sea lions sunning themselves on the bluffs below, playful dolphins flitting through the waves, and, during their December-April migration, magnificent gray whales breaching in the distance. Witness the thrill of surfers riding the waves on the north side or (when safe to do so) delve deeper into the underwater estuary with snorkeling or scuba diving. Point Dume even caters to adrenaline enthusiasts with its popular rock-climbing spots. Prepare for an abundance of onshore and offshore recreational activities!

Water Quality/Water quality improvement elements:  Rest assured, the water quality at Point Dume is pristine. According to our Beach Report Card, it boasts an A+ rating, signifying excellent water quality and guaranteeing a safe environment for swimming, sunbathing, and exploring.


Ginger Rogers Beach, Malibu

Source: https://smmirror.com/2023/05/lifeguard-towers-at-will-rogers-beach-to-be-painted-with-pride-colors/

What we love about it:Love knows no bounds, and neither should your Valentine’s Day celebration! Escape the ordinary and head to Ginger Rogers Beach, a cherished haven for Los Angeles’s vibrant LGBTQ+ community since the 1960s. Embrace the ocean breeze on this special stretch of Will Rogers Beach, just 15 miles from West Hollywood. Accessibility is a breeze: convenient parking, a dedicated bike path, and the Santa Monica Blue Bus 9 stopping nearby ensure stress-free arrival. So, ditch the traditional and celebrate your love in a vibrant, welcoming atmosphere where every couple shines just as brightly as the California sun.

What to do here: Proudly stroll hand-in-hand along the shore with laughter echoing amidst volleyball games, and maybe even join one of the spontaneous beachside dance parties this spot is known for as the sun sets. Celebrating “big love” with your whole crew? Don’t forget to take some group selfies at the #Pride Flag Lifeguard Station. Whether you’re seeking sun-kissed relaxation or playful competition, Ginger Rogers Beach offers something for every love story.

Water Quality/Water quality improvement elements:This beach boasted an A+ rating on January 21st, 2024, but check the Beach Report Card app for real-time updates as recent storms may impact water quality. (beachreportcard.org)

Torrey Pines, San Diego

Source: Dan_H, flickr

What we love about it: Torrey Pines State Beach has picturesque views of the San Diego coastline and the adjacent Torrey Pines State Reserve is filled with little trails leading down to the shore. We recommend that you only take marked trails and watch your footing, but the views are worth the adventure.

What to do here: We love the Torrey Pines Trail to Black’s Beach in the morning for a beautiful way to start your day. Fair warning: some nudists like to visit this beach as well.

Water Quality: The only sampling site at Torrey Pines is at the Los Penasquitos Lagoon outlet. That site received good grades in our most recent annual Beach Report Card.


La Jolla, San Diego

Source: Wikipedia Commons

What we love about it: This spot is great for lovers and families alike, with plenty of adventure to be had by all ages.

What to do here: This is the perfect spot for a SUP (stand-up paddleboard) adventure, snorkeling, kayaking, or even just a picturesque walk along the beach. For stunning ocean views over dinner, check out the Marine Room at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club.

Water Quality: La Jolla Shores received great grades in our annual report last year.


Victoria Beach, Orange County

Source: Daniel Peckham, Flickr

What we love about it: Straight out of a fairy tale, this shoreline spot is guarded by La Tour, a 60-foot castle-inspired tower.  Built in 1926, the structure provided beach access for a home on the cliff above.

What to do here: Looking to be someone’s knight in shining armor? Look no further. To get here, walk to the north end of Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach, around the bluff, and past another sandy section of beach. (This is a privately owned structure, so while you can walk up to it, please do not try to go inside or climb on the structure.)

Water Quality: Victoria Beach received A+’s across the board in our last annual report.


Crystal Cove State Park, Orange County

Source: Wikipedia Commons

What we love about it: With such a long swath of open sandy shores, this is an ideal spot for a romantic seaside stroll, or perhaps for a love-inspired photoshoot.

What to do here: If you’re looking for post-beach walk eats with an ocean view, the Beachcomber Café is a fun option.

Water Quality: Crystal Cove has great water quality in the summer or whenever the weather has been dry. Given the buckets of rain we have (thankfully) gotten this year, make sure to heed any beach posting signs you may see.


Palos Verdes Peninsula, Los Angeles

Source: Mark Esguerra, The Marke’s World

What we love about it: We love the PV areas so much, that we had to lump the whole peninsula together as one of our top locations. Palos Verdes wraps around from the base of the South Bay down to San Pedro and features beautiful neighborhoods, coastal trails, clean beaches, and tidepool adventures.

What to do here: For those seeking marine biology-inspired adventures, plan your visit during low tide to explore the tidepools at Abalone Cove. For a scenic hike and a secluded rocky beach, don’t miss Palos Verdes Bluff Cove. 

Water Quality: Seeking a beach escape with guaranteed sparkling waters? Look no further than Abalone Cove Shoreline Park, a jewel nestled within the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Not only is Abalone Cove recognized as an Honor Roll beach, signifying top-notch amenities and impeccable upkeep, but the entire Palos Verdes Peninsula boasts an A+ rating on our Beach Report Card, assuring pristine water quality for swimming, sunbathing, and creating unforgettable memories.


El Matador State Beach, Malibu

Source: Elliot McGucken, 500px

What we love about it: El Matador Beach is characterized by dramatic cliffs, hidden coves, and even secret sea caves, evoking the atmosphere of a Hollywood romance scene. Whether you’re igniting a new flame or spending time with a longtime partner, El Matador is sure to kindle your passion. Keep in mind that accessing the beach requires descending stairs. 

What to do here: Explore the dramatic landscape, take Instagram-worthy photos, find little hideaway spots for you and your date to share secret kisses, and wrap up your evening with a gorgeous sunset view. Please note that parking can cause a little heartache as spaces are limited. 

Water Quality: Beyond the captivating rock formations and breathtaking scenery, El Matador Beach boasts another hidden gem: impeccably clean, A+-rated water quality. As recognized by our Beach Report Card, this Honor Roll beach guarantees safe, clean, sparkling waves perfect for a day at the beach.


Arroyo Burro, Santa Barbara

Source: Damian Gadal, flickr

What we love about it: Santa Barbara is the perfect little getaway for a weekend of romance. If you’re looking for some time together to rest, rejuvenate, and rekindle the fire, Santa Barbara is the perfect place.

What to do here: We love Arroyo Burro for a sunset walk, and with plenty of parking and restroom access it’s a stress-free beach walk experience.

Water Quality: Arroyo Burro has great water quality in the summer or whenever it has been dry enough that the creek hasn’t been breached. Make sure to heed any beach posting signs you may see if you’re feeling like taking a dip. But if the creek is flowing, be sure to stick to the sand over the waves.


Freshwater Sites

Madrona Marsh, Torrance

Source Safe Clean Water Team (https://healthebay.org/safecleanwater/)

What we love about it: More than just a mall neighbor, Madrona Marsh is a vibrant ecosystem thriving in the heart of Torrance. This beautiful seasonal wetland boasts unique vernal pools teeming with diverse life, from fascinating birds and insects to curious animals and aquatic wonders. Escape the hustle and bustle by venturing onto the multiple trails that weave through the pools and wetlands, immersing yourself in nature’s tranquility.  

What to do here: It’s a wonderful place to take a walk with a loved one and enjoy nature. Slow down, soak in the vibrant hues of California poppies and sunflowers and become captivated by the symphony of birdsong. Let the serenity of the marsh wash over you as you reconnect with nature and each other.

Water Quality/Water quality improvement elements: Beyond its beauty, Madrona Marsh plays a vital role in environmental sustainability. The marsh uses nature-based solutions to treat stormwater from the surrounding neighborhood! Water is pumped into a modular wetland system where it is cleaned using a pre-filtration chamber, biofiltration with vetiver (a non-invasive perennial grass) that removes pollutants, and then the filtered water is pumped to wetlands at the marsh. 


L.A. River at Benedict St. in Frogtown, Los Angeles

2023 Heal the Bay Stream Team

What we love about it:  No need to kiss this frog to turn it into the “prince” of Valentine’s Day destinations. Frogtown, nestled between the bustling I-5 and the vibrant LA River, is a vibrant neighborhood. Chic outdoor cafes beckon with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, perfect for cozy hand-holding moments. Imagine the gentle murmur of conversation blending with the soft city breeze, setting the stage for an unforgettable date. (Heal the Bay would like to acknowledge that gentrification has taken place here and would like to pay respect to the original neighborhood landmarks and communities).

What to do here:  Embark on a hand-in-hand adventure along the picturesque LA River Greenway Trail. Cycle leisurely side-by-side, weaving through sun-dappled paths and enjoying the refreshing green spaces. If a slower pace beckons, find a quiet spot by the river’s edge, to sip a coffee from a nearby cafe and watch the water flow serenely next to your loved one. we advise against entering the water right now and outside of the open recreation season (May-Sept), but the scenic backdrop guarantees a picture-perfect memory. 

Water Quality/Water quality improvement elements:During the 2023 summer Stream season, the L.A. River at Benedict St. achieved an impressive A+ rating on the River Report Card, confirming its excellent water quality permitted recreational activities during designated open seasons.


 Rock Pool, Malibu Creek State Park 

Source: 2023 Heal the Bay Stream Team (https://healthebay.org/2023-water-quality-successes-river-report-card-upgrade-and-summer-stream-team/)

 

What we love about it:  Nestled roughly 1.5 miles from the parking lot, the journey itself to Rock Pool is a shared adventure. Prepare to be mesmerized by the picturesque surroundings – towering trees and lush greenery frame the crystal-clear waters. Trust us, the entrance fee is completely worth it. 

What to do here: The swimming hole at this location is of considerable depth, perfect for a refreshing dip after a lengthy hike. After an exhilarating dip, spread out a cozy picnic under the shade of the trees or simply relax and dip your feet in the water.

Water Quality/Water quality improvement elements: This natural haven earned an A+ on the 2023 Summer River Report Card, signifying excellent water quality, guaranteeing a refreshing and safe escape for your love story. 


Parks

Machado Lake in Ken Malloy Regional Park, Harbor City 

Source: Safe Clean Water Team (https://healthebay.org/safecleanwater/)

What we love about it: This natural lake isn’t just a body of water; it’s a vibrant ecological hub and a haven for recreation within the sprawling Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park. This impressive park, one of the largest in Los Angeles, boasts a remarkable diversity of habitats, including Machado Lake itself, a seasonal freshwater marsh, a thriving riparian woodland, and even a nonnative grassland.

What to do here:  Imagine your children giggling on the play structures, laughter filling the air during a family picnic at the designated tables, or the thrill of spotting diverse wildlife species. Fishing enthusiasts can try their luck with catch-and-release fishing, adding to the diverse activities available. You might even hear whispers of Reggie, the resident alligator who once called the lake home (trust us, Google him – you won’t be disappointed!). 

Water Quality/Water quality improvement elements:  Thanks to renovations originally funded by Prop O and other initiatives, the lake’s water treatment systems were revitalized to effectively remove pollutants like trash, bacteria, and even oil and grease. Now, thanks to the Safe, Clean Water Program, regular upkeep ensures the continued health of this vital ecosystem.


Ladera Park, Los Angeles

Source: https://parks.lacounty.gov/ladera-park/

What we love about it:More than just a park, Ladera is a testament to sustainable practices and community connection where you can make a love connection. Thanks to funding from the Safe, Clean Water Program, this park has implemented smart solutions (like infiltration wells) to capture and permeate stormwater and non-stormwater runoff, ensuring a healthier environment for everyone. Here rainwater nourishes native plants instead of flowing into polluted waterways.  Stroll hand-in-hand with your favorite environmentalist through paths marked with educational signage or enjoy lunch in this living classroom for visitors of all ages. The perfect outdoor date for those committed to each other, and sustainability.

What to do here: This park has it all – areas for parties and barbeques, playgrounds, sports areas, walking paths, and lots of large sycamore trees. Wildlife abounds and there are frequently western bluebirds, hawks, and more.  

Water Quality/Water quality improvement elements:  The impact goes beyond the park’s boundaries. By capturing and treating over half a million gallons of stormwater annually, Ladera Park significantly reduces harmful pollutants like bacteria and metals from entering nearby waterways. This contributes to a cleaner Centinela Creek, Ballona Creek, and ultimately, the ocean, benefiting countless species and the entire community.


Looking for beaches outside of SoCal? See our previous blog and check out recent water quality with Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card.

Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card is the only comprehensive analysis of coastline water quality in California. We grade more than 700 beaches weekly from Oregon to the Mexico border, assigning an A to F grade based on the health risks of swimming or surfing at that location.

Special thanks to the romantics on our Science, Outreach, and Water Quality Team:

Dr. Katherine Pease, Science, and Policy Director; Dr. Alison Xunyi Wu, Water Quality Data Specialist; Dr. Tania Pineda-Enriquez, Water Quality Data and Policy Associate Specialist; Nancy Shrodes, Senior Watershed Specialist, South Santa Monica Bay; Jillian Marshall, Communications Manager; and Leslie Griffin, former chief water quality scientist Heal the Bay. 



UPDATE: The AB1066 bill has passed and is heading to the Governor’s desk to sign! Thank you for making your voice heard on behalf of clean freshwater in California.

Heal the Bay and Assembly Member Richard Bloom Introduce Legislation to Protect Public Health at Freshwater Swimming and Recreation Sites in California

We are so excited that Assembly Bill 1066 is progressing through the State legislature. It is the necessary first step towards protecting all Californians from pollution at their favorite freshwater recreation spots, and it has the potential to inspire more health protections and water quality improvements as we have seen at our ocean beaches.

Take Action and Call Your Reps:

Help us ensure AB1066 passes by calling your California representatives and letting them know you support safe, freshwater swimming sites for ALL!

Don’t know who your reps are or how to contact them? Find your reps here. Click the provided link to go to their websites and contact info.

Find My Reps

Sample call script:
“Hi, my name is ___ and I live in ___ . As your constituent, I am urging you to please support clean water, safe freshwater recreation, and public health by voting YES on AB1066. Thanks for your time.”


Learn More About Assembly Bill 1066

Assembly Bill 1066 has been amended since its initial introduction. The scope of the bill has been reduced, but it still remains a critical and significant step forward in protecting the public health of inland communities and visitors to freshwater recreation areas. The reduced scope cuts down on the cost and approaches the issue in phases, tackling phase one in its current version and extending the initial timeline.  

By December 2023, AB1066 would task the California Water Quality Monitoring Council with: 

  • Producing a report detailing existing data 
  • Defining and identifying priority freshwater recreation sites across the state, based on criteria such as frequency of use and equity-based metrics 
  • Making recommendations for an appropriate monitoring program for these sites to the State Water Board  

If AB1066 passes, future steps, which Heal the Bay is committed to working on, would include: 

  • Developing and mandating a monitoring and public notification program for priority freshwater recreation areas across California (similar to AB411 for ocean beaches) 
  • Identifying appropriate funding sources to support this new program, such as a state budget allocation or federal funding  

Twenty-four years ago, the California Legislature took an important step forward in protecting public health at ocean beachesAB411, authored by Assembly Members Howard Wayne (San Diego) and Debra Bowen (South Bay), established statewide water quality standards, required standard monitoring protocols, and set uniform mandatory public notification procedures in place during poor water quality events. Prior to AB411, ocean-goers did not have access to water quality information leaving them vulnerable to serious illnesses such as stomach flu, respiratory illness and debilitating ear, nose, and throat infections, which are contracted from fecal contamination in the water.  

AB411 requires weekly water quality monitoring from April 1 to October 31 as well as public notification of water quality conditions for beaches where annual visitation is 50,000 or greater or that are near storm drainsHeal the Bay was the primary sponsor for this bill, and our Beach Report Cardstarted in 1991, helped grow support for it. AB411 is still the guiding piece of legislation for recreational water quality monitoring in California. Unfortunately, freshwater swimming and recreation areas are not regulated or monitored consistently in the same way that ocean beaches are. California has fecal pollution standards for freshwater, but monitoring for that pollution is lacking. Many swimming holes across the State are not tested for water quality, and for those that are, the monitoring and public notification protocols are not consistent statewide.  

Rivers, lakes, and streams are popular areas where people swim, fish, kayak, wade, raft, and more. And for many people who do not live near the coast or for whom the coast is not easily accessible, these are the areas where they go to cool off and enjoy time with friends and family, and have a good time. People who visit freshwater swimming holes should be provided with the same protections that ocean beachgoers are given. People deserve to know if they might be exposed to fecal pollution so that they can adequately protect themselves. We are thrilled to announce that Assembly Member Richard Bloom, in partnership with Heal the Bay, has introduced legislation to address this public health disparity, AB1066 

AB1066 is the latest effort from Heal the Bay on addressing this issue. In 2014, Heal the Bay began monitoring freshwater recreation sites and providing that information to the public. We also began aggregating freshwater monitoring data from throughout LA County starting in 2017. This grew into our River Report Card (RRC), a free and publicly accessible website with updated water quality information throughout the greater LA region. Similar to the Beach Report Card, we have been using the RRC to advocate for increased monitoring and better water quality notifications across LA County. However, we want to take this to the next step and ensure people across the whole state have access to consistent water quality information that can help keep them safe.  

AB1066 would:  

  • Establish a definition for a freshwater recreation site based on frequency of use and identify sites state-wide to be monitored; 
  • Require weekly monitoring from Memorial Day to Labor Day for freshwater recreation sites by the owner/operator using a standardized protocol and metrics;  
  • Require public notification online and through signage for hazardous water quality conditions. 

 “I am pleased to author AB1066 to address a key public health challenge that many Californians face in outdoor recreation– ensuring there are science and health based bacterial standards, ongoing water quality monitoring, and public notification for freshwater bathing where needed.

California is a magnificent state and one that affords all our communities with opportunities to recreate outdoors. Our lakes, rivers and streams should be enjoyed by residents throughout the state, but we need to ensure that their public health is protected while doing so.” 

-Assembly Member Richard Bloom 

The protections in AB1066 are long overdue and were afforded to ocean beaches nearly 25 years ago. Sign up for our newsletter to stay informed on our work and ways to get involved.



Happy #WorldWetlandsDay!

The Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve has the potential to be the most special wildlife area in Los Angeles – a rare remnant of the vast plain of marshes that once covered much of the LA basin. But the ecosystem is severely degraded, and getting worse. Much of the current Reserve is dried out and choked with non-native weeds. In fact, most of the almost 600-acre Ballona Wetlands Reserve doesn’t even qualify as a wetland anymore. Plus, only a tiny sliver of this ecological reserve is open to the public, even though it’s on state-owned land, right in the heart of LA’s westside, between Marina Del Rey and LAX.

Planning to restore the Wetlands and open them to the public has been underway for 17 years. Recently, that plan took a big step forward: after years of analysis, design, community meetings and environmental review, the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was certified by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in December 2020. Now this important project can move towards implementation.

Even better news – CDFW selected Alternative 1, the most robust of the possible restoration designs for Ballona. Alt 1 provides the most habitat for wildlife, the greatest amount of walking and biking trails, and the maximum climate resilience. It is a project truly worthy of this special and rare opportunity for urban wetland restoration in LA. 

Now the Army Corps of Engineers will prepare its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a process that should take about two years. This is a great opportunity for community input on project design. Heal the Bay will be reaching out for your thoughts and comments as the project proceeds. 

More Detail on the Project

Alt 1 will remove the concrete stream banks that separate the former wetlands from Ballona Creek. It will create a healthy, functioning estuary where fresh water from the creek mixes with salt water from the tides of the Pacific Ocean. It will create habitat for fish and migrating birds, educational opportunities for students, and many miles of trails for people to explore.

Ballona Wetlands Restoration Plan

Heal the Bay and our partners have been involved in every step of the project, providing expert input on wetlands ecology and restoration principles, engaging the public, and advocating for restoration. The Steering Committee of the Wetlands Restoration Principles Coalition (WRP) supports Alt 1 for many reasons:

  • Alt 1 removes the most fill and concrete, and creates the most habitat, public access, and sea level rise resilience.
  • Alt 1 has more trails than any other alternative. It will create of 3.6 miles of walking + biking paths, as well as 5.5 miles of pedestrian-only trails and ADA-compliant elevated boardwalks. 
  • Alt 1 will be an asset to communities across LA County in support of public health and access to nature, and a prized jewel of the LA County coast.
  • Alt 1 provides parkland in Westchester, Playa del Rey, and the LAX neighborhoods. They are the most park-poor neighborhoods of the westside, with only 15% of the population within walking distance of a park (LA County Park Needs Assessment).
  • Alt 1 makes us more climate-resilient, by absorbing decades of sea level rise, restoring ecosystem function to capture Blue Carbon, and ensures safety of neighboring communities from flooding. Alt 1 maintains salt marsh and other habitats through 3.5 feet of sea level rise.
  • Alt 1 provides the greatest water quality and habitat benefits, by increasing tidal flushing and creating and restoring approximately 200 acres of marsh and salt pan habitat. 

The Ballona Wetlands Restoration is a generational opportunity to recover this unique Los Angeles ecological gem, and open it to the public for all to enjoy. Show your support for this project by adding your name to our coalition’s Ballona Wetlands Restoration Support Letter here: https://www.ballonafriends.org/support.

Sign Ballona Support Letter

Check back for updates, there’s more to come on Ballona! 

 

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Surfrider Beach Third Point, Malibu. Photo by The California Coastal Commission 

On November 15-16 and December 13-15, 2020, head to the beach during the King Tides to catch a glimpse of what our future coast will look like with sea level rise.

King Tides occur when the Moon aligns with the Sun, and is also at its closest position relative to the Earth. This exerts cumulative gravitational pulls on Earth, resulting in the most extreme high and low tides of the year. In California, experts say that King Tides today are what we can expect our daily high tide to look like in the next few decades under climate change and sea level rise predictions.

For many people, it’s hard to see everyday impacts of climate change locally and difficult to understand real-life impacts that are here or coming. King Tides give us the opportunity to visualize firsthand what a higher sea level will be like, and it’s impact on California cities. This is also an opportunity to get involved as a community scientist and document the #KingTides through photos. These photos can be used by scientists, government agencies, and decision makers to understand, plan for, and educate about climate change impacts.

As sea levels rise, flooding and erosion along the coast will increase, putting people’s homes, freshwater aquifers, and critical infrastructure (like roads, bridges, wastewater treatment plants) at risk. Sea level rise is also predicted to result in the loss of 31-67% of SoCal’s beaches. However, the impact of sea level rise does not stop at the coast. As ocean water flows farther inland, it displaces groundwater, pushing it closer to the surface. Eventually, that groundwater can break the surface and damage roads and homes, and release toxins and pollution that would otherwise remain trapped in the soil.

There are actions that we can take today to minimize and prepare for coming climate change impacts. For instance, individuals can reduce their carbon footprint by driving less, adopting a plant-based diet, and demanding action from elected officials. Individuals and agencies can support and advocate for restoration of coastal wetlands, such as the Ballona Wetlands, which sequester carbon and buffer communities from sea level rise and storm surges. Governments can update their Local Coastal Programs (a planning document to guide development) for sea level rise and climate change adaptation.

You can take part in community science and take photos for the Coastal Commission’s Project and USC Sea Grant’s Urban Tides Program.

Want to learn more about climate change? Request a speaker from Heal the Bay to give a virtual climate change presentation to your school, club, or group.

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Mother's Beach, Marina del Rey 2019. Photo by The California Coastal Commission

Helpful resources for King Tides:



Sign Petition

On March 26, in response to lobbying from the oil and gas industry, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced rollbacks on enforcement of regulations during the COVID-19 response. These rollbacks put public health at risk by letting industries off the hook for their legal requirements to control their pollution. Communities that are already disproportionately burdened by pollution, including the unsheltered and low-income communities of color, are the ones who will be hit hardest. The government’s response to a pandemic should not upend its commitment to address other, longstanding threats to public health.

It is clear that COVID-19 is having major impacts on all sectors, from individuals to small mom-and-pop businesses to large factories. There may be cases when a relaxation in requirements is acceptable to help those businesses, but to cease oversight altogether is not the answer. Blanket exemptions cannot be tolerated, because doing so puts people’s health further at risk, particularly those who are most vulnerable and most likely to be impacted by COVID-19. Any regulatory flexibility must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Now is not the time for blanket rollbacks of environmental regulations. The administration’s recent actions to rollback regulations on car fuel standards as well as water and air pollution are unconscionable and only take advantage of this terrible pandemic at the expense of public health.

What do the EPA rollbacks mean?

We have seen dozens of piecemeal rollbacks during this current administration. Now the EPA has released a memorandum announcing across-the-board rollbacks on enforcement of regulations that protect public health and natural resources, including clean water. It applies to any facility regulated by the EPA including private industries that discharge polluted water, as well as essential services including drinking water or wastewater treatment facilities.

The memorandum states that COVID-19 “may affect the ability of an operation to meet enforceable limitations on air emissions and water discharges, requirements for the management of hazardous waste, or requirements to ensure and provide safe drinking water.” The memorandum encourages facilities to report instances of non-compliance that may create an acute risk to human health or the environment. But encouragement is not enough – these occurrences must be reported immediately and publicly so that people are aware of the increased risks to their health.

Additionally, the EPA will no longer penalize violations of routine monitoring and other obligations. Monitoring and record keeping are fundamental to addressing pollution – knowing which contaminants (and how much) are discharged into our waterways allows us to prioritize public health issues and demand plans to address the pollution.

Here in California, state laws like the Porter-Cologne Act protect public health and the environment by creating a strong backstop to prevent environmental rollbacks; however, this federal non-compliance policy creates enormous pressure for state agencies to follow suit.

The California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced back on March 20 that the “timely compliance by the regulated community with all Water Board orders and other requirements… is generally considered to be an essential function during the COVID-19 response.” However, they are reviewing requests to roll back protective measures related to water here in California, on a case-by-case basis. We are counting on the State Water Board to uphold environmental and public health protections, and provide leniency only when it is in the public interest.

What are people doing about these rollbacks?

As we all know, WATER IS LIFE. Particularly now, as we respond to COVID-19, we must ensure reliable access to safe and clean water, to protect the health of people and the natural resources on which we depend. Therefore, advocacy groups across the country have been fighting these rollbacks since they were first announced.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and a coalition of environmental justice, climate justice, and public interest advocacy groups filed a Petition for Emergency Rulemaking in response to this reckless non-enforcement policy, stating that any facility that stops monitoring and reporting their pollution must notify the EPA, to be publicly posted within one day.

Dozens of California based environmental groups (including Heal the Bay) sent a letter to Governor Newsom and many other state officials, urging them to remain committed to prioritizing public health and the availability of safe and clean water for all Californians.

Heal the Bay is urging the EPA and the State Water Board to uphold environmental regulations that protect public and environmental health, and to give leniency only when it is truly necessary and does not jeopardize public health. We also demand transparency so that any requests approved by the State Water Board are publicly noticed so the public can protect themselves and groups like Heal the Bay can continue to watchdog the decision-making process.

How you can help!

Sign Heal the Bay’s petition to tell our State Water Board to:

  • uphold environmental regulations to protect public and environmental health,
  • only give leniency when it is necessary and does not jeopardize public health, and
  • ensure transparency so the public can know when any leniency is given.

Join the Center for Biological Diversity to fight the federal rollback by sending in your own comment letter directly to Andrew Wheeler (The Administrator of the EPA), or submit a letter to the editor of your local paper.

 

Sign Petition

 



Attention citizen scientists and naturalists, it’s time to charge your mobile devices. Our watershed scientist Katherine Pease is inviting you to BioBlitz with her for a few hours on Saturday, Aug. 26.

Compton Creek is a small gem of green and blue, bisected by noisy freeways, crumbling parking lots, aging shopping malls and a high-rise casino. Amid all this urban scrabble, a soft-bottomed section of the creek thrives.

Most people don’t know this earthen-bottomed half-mile stretch even exists. And some might argue that “gem” is too generous a term for this L.A. River tributary. But we see it as a forgotten jewel – a glimpse of what greater L.A.’s inland waterways used to be and a symbol of what we can hopefully bring back on a larger scale.

There are drooping willow trees, reeds, frogs, swarms of dragonflies, California ground squirrels and even majestic kites (a type of bird) flying overhead. There is also trash, a lot of it, and pollutants that can’t be seen with the naked eye: bacteria, metals and nutrients. But there is that glimmer of hope. Plants and animals persist here, and now it’s our job to find out what’s there and to protect it.

So we’re inviting you to a blitz. A BioBlitz to be exact.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, you can join scientists and experts from Heal the Bay and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in searching for wildlife and documenting it with your smartphone.

We’ll be spending three hours snapping pictures of the local flora and fauna, uploading the images to our growing catalogue of L.A.’s wildlife via the iNaturalist app.

You don’t need to be a scientist to participate – you just have to observe what is around you! In addition to looking for plants and animals, we will be picking up trash in and around the creek, which ultimately drains into the Pacific Ocean near Long Beach.

The data we collect will better inform restoration and revitalization of the Los Angeles River watershed. A revitalization plan for the Lower L.A. River is being formulated by the Lower L.A. River Revitalization Plan Working Group. As a member of this effort, Heal the Bay is fighting for better access, improved water quality and restored ecological habitats in the Lower L.A. River. Having data on the current conditions of biodiversity in Compton Creek helps set a baseline so we can establish goals for what we would like to see in the coming years.

This BioBlitz is part of two greater efforts in the Los Angeles area to document, protect and improve biodiversity and habitats.

First, the Los Angeles City Council, championed by councilmember Paul Koretz, recently passed a motion to protect and improve biodiversity in Los Angeles. Heal the Bay has been involved in this effort and sees this BioBlitz in Compton Creek as a way to understand the nature that exists all around us in greater Los Angeles.

The second push is the city of Compton’s revival of the Compton Creek Task Force. The Task Force is focused on creating stewardship opportunities along the creek, educating residents and visitors about its importance. The group will also help implement the city’s Compton Creek Regional Garden Park Master Plan, which includes restoring the earthen-bottom portion of Compton Creek.

If you ever thought about becoming a citizen scientist, this is an ideal opportunity to get started. Last year, we hosted similar events in the Ballona Wetlands and Malibu Lagoon. Dozens of volunteers made a big difference in our ongoing restoration work by creating a record of what they saw each morning.

You can register with us for the event here.



Dec. 7, 2016 –Dr. Katherine Pease, Heal the Bay’s wetlands scientist, takes the wraps off a new website to guide the restoration of L.A.’s few remaining wetlands.

In April 2015, Heal the Bay, along with partners Friends of Ballona Wetlands, Surfrider Foundation, and Los Angeles Waterkeeper, released a comprehensive, scientific set of principles for wetland restoration projects in Southern California.

Now that greater Los Angeles has lost 95% of its coastal wetlands, a concerted effort to protect the remaining 5% is critical for the overall health of our region. Using a science-based approach, the coalition has developed clear guidelines to support the restoration of such key ecosystems as the highly degraded Ballona Wetlands in Playa del Rey.

Besides providing habitat for animals, wetlands help buffer against climate change, provide much-needed open space, and act as natural water-purification systems.

Nine other organizations signed on in support of those guidelines. Since then, we have shared our principles with the California Coastal Commission, the California Fish and Game Commission, elected officials, and the public at our “Meet the Wetlands” event in July 2016. Now we are hitting the web!

The coalition has created a website to showcase our collective Principles of Wetland Restoration. We have shared the site with the nine groups that signed on to the principles as well as with local wetlands experts; their constructive feedback has been instrumental in the website development. Individuals and organizations can sign on in support of the Principles.

The website will serve as an additional tool for educating the public, as well for advocating for the restoration of Southern California’s remaining wetlands. We expanded on the pithy principles and gave examples of each principle in practice. We also compiled a list of restoration projects that have implemented a majority of the principles we believe are necessary for a successful and comprehensive project.

Looking forward, we are eagerly awaiting the long-delayed release of the plans (draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report) for the restoration of the Ballona Wetlands, expected from the state’s Department of Fish & Wildlife and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers sometime next year.

We will use this website to educate elected officials and the public about the need for scientific and comprehensive wetland restoration projects that bring back functioning ecosystems. We look forward to seeing the principles in action at Ballona and beyond.

If you support the restoration of Southern California’s wetlands, read more about the Ballona Wetlands and sign our petition asking for an expedited EIR release.



October 11, 2016 — Watershed Scientist Katherine Pease, Ph.D., weighs in on the latest setback affecting the future of the Ballona Wetlands.

Way back in 2003, the State of California purchased the Ballona Wetlands, protecting one of our last remaining coastal wetlands in Southern California. Despite being protected, the Ballona Wetlands have been severely impacted by humans and are highly degraded. Thus, shortly after State acquisition, restoration planning began.

Fast forward thirteen years and we still do not have a plan for the restoration of the Ballona Wetlands.

Rumors had been circulating recently about a delay in the release of the much-anticipated restoration plan or Environmental Impact Report/Statement (EIR/EIS) for the Ballona Wetlands.

I am disappointed to say that official word has now confirmed those rumors. We are now told that we must wait until mid-2017 to see this document.

The draft EIR/EIS will detail and evaluate four tentative alternatives, ranging from the “No Action Alternative” – in other words, doing nothing – to a full scale restoration involving concrete removal to establish a more natural creek connected to the wetlands, walking and biking paths, and creation and enhancement of wetland habitats. The Army Corps of Engineers and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) are the lead agencies preparing the EIR/EIS and will make the final decision about restoration plans.

This further delay is unacceptable. The Ballona Wetlands need restoration and action needs to be taken now. Southern California has already lost 95% of its coastal wetlands. We need to act quickly to protect and restore our remaining 5%.

Heal the Bay and partners have been participating in good faith in a public process that began in 2006. The draft EIR was due in 2012. We have been awaiting this document for four years – that’s right, we are four years behind schedule. The deadlines have continually been pushed back and surpassed, but this time felt different; I was sure we would see the EIR in 2016. Alas, it was not meant to be. But that doesn’t mean that we’ll just sit around waiting patiently – we need to speak up and hold the Army Corps of Engineers and CDFW accountable.

What is the explanation for the delay?

  • The official notice states in great brevity that the delay is “due to the identification, discussion and resolution of various questions and concerns from the project agencies involved.”
  • We ask for more transparency and specific details about the delay. What are the questions and concerns? How will they be addressed? We suggest a public meeting to discuss the process. 

What assurance do we have that the new timeline will be met?

  • Transparency in the process about what went wrong will help give us confidence that the new timeline will be met. Further, we would like to see specific interim goals with dates to ensure that the process stays on track to meet the new timeline. The document needs to be made public as soon as possible. We ask that this work be prioritized and be finished by the end of 2016.

Heal the Bay will meet with partners, agencies, and elected officials to try to get answers to these questions and to put pressure on the lead agencies.

If you support the restoration of Ballona Wetlands and want to see it happen ASAP, starting with the release of the EIR/EIS, please sign our petition now.

You can also contact CDFW and your federal elected officials to let them know that you care about wetland habitat and that you want to see the EIR/EIS now.

SIGN THE PETITION FOR A BALLONA WETLANDS EIR

Learn more about the Ballona Wetlands.

White egret at the Ballona Wetlands Student group on a tour at Ballona Wetlands Wooden posts at Ballona Wetlands



Aug, 5, 2016 — Staff scientist Katherine Pease launches our Freshwater Friday blog post, providing weekly updates on the latest bacterial exceedances at popular recreational zones

Heal the Bay’s inaugural study of Los Angeles River microbial water quality that we published last week and last year’s study on swimming holes in the Santa Monica Mountains called for more readily available public water quality information. The public has a right to know about water quality conditions in these freshwater recreation areas so that they can make informed decisions on how to minimize the risk of getting sick.

So beginning today with our Santa Monica Mountains sites, we will be posting a blog post every Friday during the summer with water quality information from our weekly sampling of freshwater recreation sites in Los Angeles County. (You can see this week’s findings at the bottom of this page, but first we want to explain our intent and methodology.)

We envision safe swimmable rivers and creeks throughout Los Angeles County. However, a number of recreational waterbodies are not regularly monitored or monitored at all. We know thousands of Angelenos use these aquatic resources.

As such, Heal the Bay would rather provide some information about the water quality they are immersing themselves into rather than no information. The idea is to prompt the user to ask questions about these waterbodies: What is the origin of the water? Can I get sick from it? What types of illnesses can I get? How do I get more information? We will be posting a Frequently Asked Questions document next week to help answer some of these questions.

Heal the Bay has been monitoring water quality in streams and rivers since 1998 through our Stream Team program. In 2014 we initiated a pilot study to monitor human use and water quality at freshwater swimming spots in the Santa Monica Mountains, focusing on bacterial pollution and public health implications.

The A-to-F grading system of the Beach Report Card took years of work to develop and fine-tune. We are only in the very early stages of thinking about an analogous River Report Card. But we want to start by making basic water quality information available to the public in a timely manner.

We will be providing weekly information about levels of fecal indicator bacteria at five sites. We will report on whether the sample from the current week exceeded limits set by the Regional Water Quality Control Board and US EPA and what the microbial water quality has been over the summer sampling season thus far.

We will report on two types of fecal indicator bacteria, or FIB: E. coli and Enterococcus. FIB, while not harmful themselves, indicate the possible presence of pathogenic bacteria, which have been found to cause ear infections, skin rashes, respiratory illnesses and gastrointestinal illness. High levels of FIB are particularly concerning in areas where people come in contact with water through activities like swimming, fishing, and kayaking.

Excuse us for getting technical in this next section, but we just want to be clear about what we are measuring and what constitutes an exceedance.

We compare bacteria levels measured at each site to water quality objectives from the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) for Bacteria in the Malibu Creek Watershed and EPA’s 2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria (RWQC)

The freshwater regulatory limit for E. coli is set in the TMDL at 235 MPN/100ml for a single sample and 126 MPN/100ml for the geometric mean. (A geometric mean is a type of average that results in a number that is not as heavily affected by very high or very low values).

We calculate geometric means from all samples over the last 30-day period (usually four or five samples). For Enterococcus, we used EPA’s statistical threshold value (for an illness rate of 32/1,000 (the more protective rate), which is 110 MPN/100ml for a single sample and 30 MPN/100ml for the geometric mean in a fresh waterbody designated for recreation.

For each site, we will report on the number of criteria that exceeded four standards. A site can have 0-4 out of four exceedances. A sample exceeds if:

E. coli single sample > 235 MPN/100ml 

E. coli geometric mean > 126 MPN/100ml

Enterococcus single sample is > 110 MPN/100ml

Enterococcus geometric mean is > 30 MPN/100ml

So, what does that all mean?

The greater the number and magnitude of exceedances at a site, the worse the water quality is, indicating a potentially increased risk of getting sick.

Deciding what to do with this information depends on the risk level you are comfortable with. Single sample values give you an indication of the most recent water quality, while geometric mean values give you an indication of the ambient water quality over the last 30 days.

However, it is important to note that the single sample gives information for the day on which the sample was taken and conditions can change throughout the week until the next sample is taken.

The thresholds that the US EPA and the RWQCB have put forth are based on epidemiological studies and risk. An increased risk of illness is not a guarantee that you will get sick. Certain activities are more risky when water quality is poor; for instance, swimming and submerging your head is more risky than wading; swimming is more risky than kayaking; kayaking is likely more risky than hiking (at least with regards to picking up a waterborne illness), and so on, with the risk dependent on how likely you are to ingest or contact water.

We recommend following these best practices to stay safe and healthy.

  • Swimming: In waters known to exceed bacterial limits, swimming is not recommended, particularly submerging one’s head. Elevated bacteria levels can occur at any time. Swimmers should use caution when entering the water by checking the latest water quality results, avoiding contact immediately after a rainfall, if they are immunocompromised, or if they have an open wound. If there is any water contact, then rise off with soap and water afterward.
  • Kayaking and Fishing: In waters that are known to exceed bacterial limits, people should limit water contact, especially avoiding hand-to-face water contact. Users should not enter the water with an open wound, if immunocompromised, or after a rainfall. If there is any water contact, then rinse off with soap and water afterward.

Malibu Creek State Park

for the week ending August 3, 2016

1. Rock Pool: Three exceedances

Three of the four criteria exceed the threshold values this week at Rock Pool site in Malibu Creek. For E. coli, the single sample and geometric mean values were over threshold values; the single sample Enterococcus value was under the threshold of 110 MPN/100ml but the geometric mean value was over the threshold value. Since June 15, 2016, we have documented exceedance rates (for single samples) of 43% for E. coli and 14% for Enterococcus at this site.

2. Las Virgenes Creek at the bridge: Three exceedances

Three of the four criteria exceed the threshold values this week at Las Virgenes Creek at the bridge. The single sample E. coli value was below the threshold of 235 MPN/100ml but the geometric mean for E. coli was over 126 MPN/100ml, and both the single sample and geometric mean values for Enterococcus were over their respective thresholds. Since June 15, 2016, we have documented exceedance rates (for single samples) of 29% for E. coli and 57% for Enterococcus at this site.



July 27, 2016 — Heal the Bay released today a landmark study of water quality in the Los Angeles River. Dr. Katherine Pease, the study’s author, explains why improving the river’s water quality should be an integral part of any plan to restore it.

Last week’s massive 2.4 million gallon sewage spill into the Los Angeles River and subsequent closure of local beaches illustrates the serious water-quality challenges facing our inland waterways.

Sewage spills are unusual one-time events, but a new study that I have just completed demonstrates that bacterial pollution continues to plague the river on a chronic, long-term basis. We are releasing the results today.

The findings are a cause for both concern and opportunity — given the growing recreational uses of the river and a $1 billion revitalization plan for L.A.’s central water body.

The L.A. River Study

The study shows that popular recreation spots along the Los Angeles River suffer from very poor water quality, which poses health risks to the growing number of people who fish, swim and kayak in its waters.

Kayaking and other recreational opportunities are frequently described by participants as transformational in their perception of the Los Angeles River. Getting on the water helps people move beyond the stereotypical image of a concrete drainage ditch to a vision of a vibrant river filled with life and potential.

My transformational moment at the river took place in 2009 when I was asked by a friend to participate in River School, an educational event put on by Friends of the Los Angeles River (FOLAR) in the Elysian Valley. We scouted an area by Fletcher Avenue the day before, searching for examples of native and non-native plants as well as aquatic life in scoops of water.

Sepulveda River BasinI was amazed at this newly discovered area that had been hiding in plain sight. I found a hawk pellet underneath an overpass of a busy street. I ate a mulberry from a tree growing in the river. I also saw signs of a waterbody that needed help. Pollution in the form of trash was obvious, but the unseen pollution was also troubling.

The importance of developing a personal connection to the river cannot be overstated. Heal the Bay hopes that people continue to have transformational moments in its waters and that the river itself can be transformed into a waterbody meeting its beneficial uses of recreation, recharging groundwater, and providing habitat for wildlife.

But we have a long way to go – as the study clearly demonstrates.

Building on Heal the Bay’s work as a watchdog for public health at local beaches, we began monitoring popular, previously unmonitored freshwater recreational areas in 2014 starting with swimming holes in the Santa Monica Mountains, and adding sites in the L.A. River in 2015.

Taking samples at the L.A. RiverHeal the Bay staff scientists collected and tested water samples weekly for fecal indicator bacteria at three sites in the two recreation zones in the Sepulveda Basin and Elysian Valley areas of the river over a three-month period in summer 2015.

Bacteria levels varied among the sites in the new L.A. River study, but overall were quite high. For example, samples for one type of fecal indicator bacteria, Enterococcus, exceeded federal standards 100% of the time at two sites in Elysian Valley (Rattlesnake Park and Steelhead Park) and 50% of the time in Sepulveda Basin. The Rattlesnake Park site also suffered from a 67% exceedance rate for E. coli.

These exceedances indicate risk for ear infections, respiratory illnesses and gastrointestinal illnesses for people who come in contact with the water.

Much of the water that flows in the L.A. River is highly treated and sanitized wastewater from the city of L.A.’s Tillman Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, nearly 16 million gallons a day. Tillman’s discharge is not considered a source of bacterial pollution, and without its flow there would likely be no kayaking in the Los Angeles River.

Train by the L.A. RiverAlthough the recreation zones were previously unassessed, monitoring in other stretches of the L.A. River show high bacteria counts, which led to the L.A. River’s designation by the state as a bacteria-impaired waterbody. The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board has also imposed a bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, for the river, which identifies several contributors of harmful bacteria to recreational zones along the river: urban runoff, leaks and flows from wastewater collection systems, illicit connections and failing septic systems. Bacteria sources include pets, horses and human waste.

By law, cities along the river and entities who discharge into it are required to enact pollution-reducing measures to comply with the federal Clean Water Act. The final deadlines for these regulations are a ways off, with interim and final goals set for 2030 and 2037, respectively. However, cities have worked together to develop an Enhanced Watershed Management Plan to address these issues with shorter-term milestones along the way.

In the report, Heal the Bay staff scientists laud recent efforts to revitalize the L.A. River and to open up public access to recreational zones. However, water quality improvements are needed to expand these opportunities and protect public health.

The federal Army Corps of Engineers has an approved $1.3-billion plan to revitalize an 11-mile stretch of the river, focusing on habitat and recreational improvement. Heal the Bay strongly urges that rehabilitation work incorporate specific and measurable measures to enhance water quality.

The full report has a detailed list of recommendations for increasing beneficial uses while protecting public health. Among them:

  • Swimming: While many families recreate in the water, particularly on hot days, adults and children should avoid swimming in the L.A. River, particularly submersing their heads under water. We envision a swimmable L.A. River one day but current water quality is not yet at a healthful level. If there is any water contact, rinse off with soap and water afterward.
  • Kayaking and Angling: People should limit water contact, especially avoiding hand-to-face water contact. Users should not enter the water with an open wound, if immunocompromised, or after a rainfall. If there is water contact, rinse off with soap and water afterward.
  • Public notification: All groups promoting recreation in the L.A. River should provide water quality information and best practices to all participants, using consistent, accurate and prominent information on all outreach materials, and in multiple languages, consistent with the demographics of visitors.
  • Increased monitoring: The City of Los Angeles or responsible municipal agency should institute, at a minimum, weekly water quality testing for fecal indicator bacteria in the recreation zones during the open season (Memorial Day to the end of September), and at other known swimming spots along the Los Angeles River.

OSO Park Boat ExitThe City of Los Angeles recently convened a stakeholder workshop to discuss water quality issues in the L.A. River and specific near-term and long-term measures to ensure that the public is informed of water quality issues. We had a robust discussion about ways to minimize risk and to implement solutions to reduce chronic pollution. We are cautiously optimistic and look forward to working with the City to put these plans into motion.

At the regional level, Heal the Bay continues to advocate for funding for comprehensive water-quality improvement projects like increased stormwater capture and wastewater recycling. These measures would reduce polluted flow into our recreation zones while increasing local water supplies in a time of drought.

About Heal the Bay and the L.A. River

Heal the Bay has been monitoring water quality in streams and rivers since 1998 through our Stream Team program. In 2014 we initiated a pilot study to monitor human use and water quality of freshwater swimming spots in the Santa Monica Mountains, focusing on bacterial pollution and public health implications.

Dr. Katherine Pease, author of the L.A. River StudyWe are currently in our third summer of monitoring water quality in those swimming locations. Given Heal the Bay’s 25-year history of informing and educating beach-goers about beach water quality through our Beach Report Card, assessing the water quality of the Los Angeles River recreation zones was a natural next step.

Heal the Bay has a long history of work on the Los Angeles River; we have advocated for improved habitat, water quality, and recreation by weighing in on numerous policies and permits concerning the Los Angeles River such as TMDLs, the Recreational Use Reassessment (RECUR) study, permits for dredging and clearing vegetation, and other regulatory actions.