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Heal the Bay Blog

Today on #WorldWaterDay we celebrate women environmentalists who saw a problem, spoke up, and changed the world.

Women are impacted by environmental issues like water pollution and climate change at disproportionate rates as a result of systemic inequity.1 Harmful stereotypes and a lack of access to education, economic status, and health resources often leave women and people of color out of the conversations that impact them, specifically about land use, natural resources, and environmental policy decision-making.

Despite these challenges, environmentalists of color and women continue to be on the front lines of creating change. Get to know these 5 women environmentalists who have created an inspiring and bold legacy of activism.

Wangari Maathai (1940 – 2011), Kenya

Founder of the Green Belt Movement, which has planted over 51 million trees, Professor Maathai focused on environmental conservation and women’s rights. She studied biology in her undergraduate and graduate school programs and later won the Nobel Peace Prize for her vast contributions to sustainable development.

 

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Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores (1971 – 2016), Honduras

Berta Cáceres was an indigenous environmental justice activist and grassroots leader who created the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH) in Honduras. She fought courageously against illegal and harmful mining and logging as well as the construction of a dam that would cut off water, food and medicine for the indigenous Lenca people. Cáceres Flores was tragically murdered in 2016, sparking international outrage. The Cáceres family continues to demand justice for this corrupt violation of human rights. 2

 

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Isatou Ceesay (b. 1972), The Gambia

Isatou Ceesay is known as the Queen of Recycling in The Gambia, and rightfully so. Though she was kept from finishing school, she created the Njai Recycling and Income Generation Group, which turns plastic bag waste into purses, creating revenue streams for local women. Ceesay also educates and empowers women through environmental advocacy.

 

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Winona LaDuke (b. 1959), White Earth Indian Reservation

Founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project and Honor the Earth, LaDuke is an environmentalist and political activist with Indigenous communities. She focuses on sustainable development, renewable energy, climate change, and environmental justice. The White Earth Land Recovery Project is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the United States dedicated to recovering original land and maintaining tribal food, water, and energy rights.

 

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Dorothy Green (1929 – 2008), Los Angeles

Founder of Heal the Bay, the late Dorothy Green was a celebrated environmental and grassroots activist in California who stopped millions of gallons of sewage from being dumped into the Pacific Ocean and changed water policy in California. She also created the Los Angeles & San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council (now the Council of Watershed Health). Her goal was to restore and preserve the ecological health of the ocean and watersheds and advocate for better water quality in the Los Angeles region. Her legacy lives on today in our organization’s mission.

In honor of National Women’s History Month, we thank these women environmentalists, from around the world, who fought for what was right despite facing strong opposition for simply being who they were. Women and girls are leaders in their communities and agents of change. Supporting and listening to them will benefit the health of our planet for generations to come.

 


About the author: Mariana Estrada is a digital advocacy intern at Heal the Bay. She grew up in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles where she enjoys a lively community of close-knit families and great food. She became interested in environmental issues like air quality at an unusually young age due to living in the city. Estrada’s area of focus is combining humanities and environmental issues to create effective and meaningful storytelling that renders real results. She studies English Literature and double-minors in Environmental Systems and Society and Environmental Engineering at UCLA.

1 Gender and climate change-induced migration: Proposing a framework for analysis. Author Namrata Chindarkar. Published by School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, College Park, USA. Published on 22 June 2012. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/254496452_Gender_and_climate_change-induced_migration_Proposing_a_framework_for_analysis
2 Berta Cáceres: 2015 Goldman Prize Recipient South and Central America. Published by The Goldman Environmental Prize. Retrieved from https://www.goldmanprize.org/recipient/berta-caceres/



After 11 years at Heal the Bay, Communications Director Matthew King is hanging up his keyboard. Before he heads off for a career sabbatical, he offers a series of posts about his favorite colleagues and lessons learned.

Readers, thanks for putting up with this extended farewell. (I feel like Cher or Elton John a bit.)  As I hand the baton to my capable colleague Talia Walsh, I want to recognize that none of our Comm success over the past decade could have happened without the eloquence and competence of our colleagues here. My job is just to set up interviews, create talking points, edit blog posts and help draft Op-Eds and then get out of the way. I’ve been very fortunate to work with so many outstanding scientists and advocates over the years.

I owe a special debt to Heal the Bay’s first executive director, Mark Gold, who hired me to rethink HTB’s Comm strategy. I think we both learned a lot from each other. Now an associate vice chancellor at UCLA, Mark is one of L.A.’s pre-eminent environmental thought-leaders, as well as an inveterate Dodger fan, like me. (In photo below, he’s wearing the cap, next to one of his heroes, star pitcher Fernando Valenzeula, before a Heal the Bay cleanup. I don’t think I ever saw him more happy at work!) His gallows humor and unfailing candor are welcome relief in a field marked too often by wishful thinking and feel-good platitudes.

My job was made infinitely easier by the endeavors of two former science-and-policy directors, Sarah Sikich and Kirsten James. I lovingly dubbed the fresh-faced, blonde duo “The Bobbsey Twins” for their earnest dedication. But this powerful team formed a formidable one-two punch in my early years, scoring victories for Marine Protected Areas and bans on single-use plastics. These two Midwesterners embody Heal the Bay’s core values: integrity, loyalty and a willingness to work hard. I am so happy that our current president Shelley Luce embodies these strengths as well. We are in good hands.

Last but not least is Meredith McCarthy, our current Operations Director and longtime Mama Bear of the organization. As Programs Manager, Meredith worked on dozens of campaigns and events with me – instilling me with pride, conviction, confidence and a can-do spirit even when my spirits flagged. She’s a mensch, a Bodhisattva and the best “work wife” I guy could ever have.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to represent Heal the Bay’s good work to the media and general public. I hope my work has helped inspire people to become better stewards of the ocean and our inland waterways. I trust that by shining a light, I’ve helped reduce pollution in the Bay and swimming-related illnesses. My father served as an L.A. County lifeguard for 30 years. So in my own small way, I feel like I’ve been following in my late father’s footsteps – helping to protect the millions of people who visit our beaches each year.

And one final thought: My wife and I had a trick at home called “One Step Further” to encourage better in-home habits for our growing sons. Yes, it was a small victory to have them take their dirty dish out of their room and to the sink. But we nudged to them to take it one step further, and actually scrape the dish and put it in the dishwasher.

I have a similar wish for all those who support Heal the Bay. Try to take it one step further. If you come to a cleanup and enjoy it, think about becoming a beach captain. If you sign one of our petitions, think about speaking at a city council hearing about the matter. If you make a small (and appreciated) one-time donation, think about becoming a monthly sustaining member. You get the idea. None of our good work happens without YOU.

I’ll see you on the beach. Maybe in Montevideo …

 

 



After 11 years at Heal the Bay, Communications Director Matthew King is hanging up his keyboard. Before he heads off for a career sabbatical, he offers a series of stories about his favorite moments and lessons learned.

Communications Directors have a special role at nonprofits. We work with every department and try hard to give our colleagues the credit they deserve for their hard work. We collaborate with smart people, working across all disciplines of the organization, as well as allies in the community.

During my tenure, I’ve spent time in the field with scientists, teachers, policy advocates, creative directors, fundraisers, organizers, journalists, lawyers, and powerful elected officials. You learn a lot just watching and listening to people who know how to get things done. I’ve had many classroomsfrom tidepools to city-council chambers, from aquariums to production studios. That informal education has been one of the biggest blessings of my job here.

Roaming across greater L.A. with an environmental mindset has also led to some memorable encounters and surprising discoveries. Here are three of my favorite moments:

Swimming with a White Shark

I’ve edited dozens of blog and social media posts about the need to protect apex predators in our waters. But my close encounter with a juvenile white shark while surfing in El Porto made the issue deeply personal.  You can read more about it here.

Discovering a Human Skull at a Cleanup

I’ve become blasé about what we find at cleanups after all these years of seeing the same types of trash over and over. Ho hum, another pound of cigarette butts in the sand. (Yuck!) But one find at a Coastal Cleanup Day site stopped me dead in my tracks – divers discovering what looked like a human skull underneath the Redondo Beach Pier. Police shut down the site and went full-on “CSI.” You can read more about the surprise ending to this story here.

Finding Hope in the Back of a Nissan

Teachers are among the most underappreciated members of society. (Honoring first responders and soldiers is great, but why don’t they celebrate outstanding teachers before ball games as well?) Patty Jimenez is one such hero, who goes the extra mile to motivate her students in the underserved community of Bell Gardens. I invited Patty and a few of her students to share their compelling story about getting cigarettes banned in city parks on KTLA Morning News. They hustled out to Playa del Rey, battling morning traffic in the predawn darkness to appear on the show before returning back for the start of school. During a break in filming, I watched these inspirational kids do something that will stick with me forever. Read their story here.


As a former reporter and editor, I know how hard it is to be a journalist. Low pay and long hours are to be expected. Most media outlets find their budgets shrinking as fast as the attention spans of readers. That makes it harder to get environmental stories into print or on air. Still, some thoughtful reporters are doing good work. Here are three journalists who made my job fun.

Louis Sahagun, L.A. Times environmental reporter

Louis is an OG LA Times vet, slightly rumpled, slightly curmudgeonly,  but with a heart-of-gold. He’s been around the block a few times. He’s the type of guy you want to have a few beers with in a divey San Pedro bar. He’s had to weather a lot of turmoil with management changes at the L.A. Times, but he perseveres. He’s the master of the anecdotal lede, expert at painting nature with spare but evocative prose. I took Louis out on a boat for my first big story here, a feature piece on the tension over creating Marine Protected Areas off the SoCal coast. You can read one of his stories about Heal the Bay’s campaign against invasive crayfish here.

Huell Howser, the late KCET video-journalist

No one did what Huell did, exploring the backroads of California and visiting everyday folk. With his “aw-shucks” demeanor and courtly Southern manners, Huell could make a trip to an insurance office seem interesting. So I was elated when I convinced him to do a segment on our fight against single-use plastic bags. My then-colleague Kirsten James and I had a small bet whether I could get him to say in that cornpone drawl of his: “Noooooo, Kirsten! NINE BILL-YUN plastic bags??!!” You can read more about our day together here.

Gayle Anderson, reporter for KTLA Morning News

Gayle has mastered goofy shtick to make herself one of the most famous news personalities in L.A. But don’t let that madcap on-air persona fool you. As a former crime reporter in Miami, she’s whip smart and extremely well read. She’s dead serious about her job and is totally demanding of her sources when putting together a segment. She used to strike the fear of God in me, but then I discovered what a pussycat she really is. You can watch some of her segments here focusing on our efforts to increase diversity on the beach.

Final installment here: Recognizing some outstanding people

 



After 11 years at Heal the Bay, Communications Director Matthew King is hanging up his keyboard. Before he heads off for a career sabbatical, he’ll offer a series of posts this week about his favorite moments and lessons learned.

Being the Communications Director for Heal the Bay is one of the easiest jobs in L.A. Our little nonprofit has brand-recognition and favorability ratings that would be the envy of any Fortune 500 company. We don’t have to spam people. Angelenos want to hear from our scientists and educators. I’ve tried to keep it pretty simple. People love the beach. Heal the Bay protects the beach. Therefore, if you love the beach, you should love Heal the Bay. It’s like that theorem in Geometry – A=B, B=C, so A=C.

Dorothy Green, Heal the Bay’s inspirational founding president, also kept things simple. She was a master communicator, who rightly noted: “Educating the populace is critically important. If politicians are going to lead, they need to already have an army of people in front of them in order to lead it.”

She shrewdly engaged media and local ad agencies to help spread the word in Heal the Bay’s first fight  in 1985 — stopping the Hyperion Plant from dumping partially treated sewage into the Bay. I’ve followed that blueprint during my tenure, helping secure some important victories. I’ve come to realize that as dysfunctional as government can be, it’s the key variable in a winning formula for healing the Bay. Cleanups are great, but it’s the heavy arm of the law that’s going to result in meaningful change – be it bans on single-use plastics, stiff fines for chronic polluters or injunctions against offshore drilling. My job has simply been to help recruit and mobilize the army that Dorothy envisioned.

So without further ado, here are my three favorite campaigns that I worked on here.

Statewide Plastic Bag Ban

As we successfully fought for the statewide ban in 2016, I constantly got asked: “Don’t we have bigger things to worry about than plastic bags?” The short answer is “Yes.” But these urban tumbleweeds are a powerful symbol of our throwaway culture. Getting people to give up the “convenience” of plastic bags can act as a gateway drug, where they feel good about other new habits — be it eating less meat or taking public transit. With nearly 2 million YouTube views, our tongue-in-cheek, BBC-style nature mockumentary “The Majestic Plastic Bag” made people laugh and think. The Jeremy Irons-narrated film even made the rounds in the legislative offices in Sacramento, as well as running in official competition at Sundance Film Festival. I still get dozens of requests each year for permission to play the film in festivals and school districts around the world. Many marketers talk a big game about their campaign going viral only to see it fizzle. But it’s the greatest rush when your work actually does.

Measure O – Fighting Oil Drilling in the Bay

When I first heard about the prospect of Hermosa Beach allowing an energy company to drill underneath the ocean floor there, I thought it must be some kind of mistake. But a regulatory loophole and an odd legal settlement basically opened up a narrow window for voters to decide in 2015 if they would allow limited drilling in exchange for millions of dollars in “community benefits.” Knowing how trusted Heal the Bay is in the South Bay, some local business owners raised some funds for our organization and Surfrider Foundation to create a public awareness campaign to defeat the measure. We were outspent 10-to-1 by Big Oil but our community coalition – led adeptly by Keep Hermosa Hermosa and my former colleague Jose Bacallao – prevailed. We had a lot of fun with the creative campaign, which focused on the idea that “Big Oil is Slick. Don’t Trust It.” My former Comm colleague Nick Colin came up with a disruptive idea – the Spillage People, a singing/dancing crew of our staffers dressed in HazMat suits drenched in oil. Riffing off the Village People hit “YMCA,” these merry band of pranksters would flash-mob around town and sing an anti-drilling ditty to hoots and hollers. Simply brilliant.

Measure W – Stormwater Capture

For the general public, thinking about water infrastructure is as exciting as talking about retirement planning. But last fall, we were handed a rare chance to start replacing our outdated water thinking/infrastructure with L.A. County’s Measure W. The initiative called for property owners to tax themselves to the tune of $200 million a year to start building a lattice of stormwater parks throughout L.A. that will capture and reuse stormwater and other runoff instead of sending it uselessly to the sea.  It was a VERY heavy lift. Who wants more taxes? And who in the general public really thinks or cares that much about where their water comes from? All the polling suggested the measure was truly a 50-50 tossup. It could go either way. But this one measure marked the single biggest action to decrease pollution in the Bay in the past decade. Thankfully,  president Shelley Luce committed the funds to come up with a creative campaign to try to win hearts and minds in the last few days leading up to the election. My longtime volunteer creative partner – Kevin McCarthy, an avid surfer and recovering ad exec – came up with the idea to turn the L.A. River into a canvass in support of Measure W. Heal the Bay and LA Waterkeeper snuck a crew onto the banks before sunrise and spelled out SAVE THE RAIN, SAVE L.A. in enormous chunks of sod along its cement channels. Green graffiti on concrete banks — the medium was the message! Local news trucks broadcast our stunt live and social influencers from Julia Louis Dreyfus to Zooey Deschanel shared our video far and wide. We can’t take all the credit, but I’m sure our stunt drove support for the measure, which squeaked by with the tiniest of margins.

 

Next: Three of my favorite “small moments” at HTB

 



Sustainable shopping is not just a trend – it may help save the world. However, the biggest impact we can make is creating comprehensive environmental policy that ensures equitable access to sustainable choices. One person can make a difference. One business can make a difference. And, so can we, as one community. For Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting two businesses run by women of color who are proving that it’s possible to be successful, sustainable, and make a positive social impact.

Shopping can be therapeutic for most. The instant gratification of hitting the “Buy Now” button or the bliss of un-bagging all the items purchased at the mall is irresistible. Though these experiences can gift us temporary relief, collectively they are extremely harmful to our environment.

From the abundance of unnecessary plastic packaging that winds up in landfills, communities, and ecosystems to the spewing of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during production and transportation, we need to see clearly that consumerism in the United States has contributed negatively to the health of our natural environment as well as our own health.

So how do we solve this issue — and quickly?

We all should hold ourselves responsible for making the right choice to safeguard the places we call home. It’s hard to imagine one’s individual impact from switching to an electric car, when fuel efficiency standards are threatened by the White House, or switching to be vegan to reduce their water and carbon footprints when farms aren’t required to reduce methane emissions.

Our individual decisions do cumulatively make a big impact. So it is especially important for consumers to shop ethically and sustainably while simultaneously demanding environmentally-responsible policies.

Our Power in Choice

As consumers, we have the power to choose companies that make a difference. And this is something worth acknowledging and celebrating. What’s exciting is that thousands of companies are actively developing innovative solutions. Meet these two company leaders in the beverage industry who are making a positive impact.


(Photo of Sashee Chandran, Founder and CEO of Tea Drops)

Tea Drops is a tea company created by Sashee Chandran, a Chinese-Sri Lankan American woman, that offers customers a locally-sourced, quality bag less tea that cuts out unnecessary waste. This process is markedly different than other tea products where polypropylene is used to make the tea bags.


(Photo of bag less tea by Tea Drops)

Sales of Tea Drops products support the Los Angeles-based, Thirst Project, by funding one year of clean water for someone in need – so choosing Tea Drops over other options not only reduces one’s waste footprint, but also contributes to water justice.

Another company promoting ethical production is Grosche, started by Helmi Ansari and Mehreen Sait, Pakistani Canadian partners. The company was built on the idea of ‘profit for change’ as opposed to profit for personal gain. They commit to funding 50-days of safe water for every product sold, including their adorable Shark Tea Infuser.


(Photo of Helmi Ansari and Mehreen Sait, Founders of Grosche)

Grosche has diverted 91% of landfill waste, uses 100% renewable energy, maintains a zero-carbon footprint, and has planted 10,000 trees in Africa and Haiti, while running a banana plantation in South Sudan to help grow food and create income for the local community. Biosand filters that purify water for 10 people, up to 25-30 years, are also offered to communities and families in need.


(Photo of the Shark Tea Infuser by Grosche)

Tea Drops and Grosche are incredible businesses moving in the right direction toward a sustainable future. We can’t stop there. We need to take their lead and advocate for policies that hold all companies and institutions accountable for their environmental impact. And we can’t afford to wait. The recent IPCC report reveals drastic change is needed within the next 12 years to protect our food and water supplies.

When we work together, we will see real change.

Check out HOVE Social Good’s Water Power Box, which features the products listed above. Every box sold gives $1 back to Heal the Bay! And also check out the box dedicated to HER Power to celebrate Women’s History Month.

www.socialgoodboxes.com


About the author: Mariana Estrada is a digital advocacy intern at Heal the Bay. She grew up in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles where she enjoys a lively community of close-knit families and great food. She became interested in environmental issues like air quality at an unusually young age due to living in the city. Estrada’s area of focus is combining humanities and environmental issues to create effective and meaningful storytelling that renders real results. She studies English Literature and double-minors in Environmental Systems and Society and Environmental Engineering at UCLA.



Meredith McCarthy, our Operations Director, is going plastic-free for 46 days. Pray for her soul.

Each year my faith tradition gives me the gift of a 46-day reflection period called Lent. I think of it as a spring cleaning of the soul. The season starts today, Ash Wednesday. The ashes are a sign of repentance, humility and mortality. Through the placement of the ashes on the forehead, believers acknowledge we have failed to be agents of love. We acknowledge our sins and work towards renewal.

Fasting is also big part of Lent. Going without feasts has its roots in early Christian tradition. As a child in Chicago, I’d often have to give up candy, making it a truly miserable month. I thought about giving up my nightly glass of wine this Lent, for a moment. Nah, let’s not go crazy, I thought.

But divine inspiration came from appropriate places this year – the Creation Care teams at Holy Family in Pasadena and American Martyrs in Manhattan Beach. I had been asked by the Catholic congregations to give a talk about plastic’s impact on our oceans. The parishes are encouraging their congregants to go on a Styrofoam fast and give up single-use plastic for lent. It’s part of a larger movement taking place across many faith communities.

As Director of Operations at Heal the Bay, I have stood hundreds of times ankle deep in plastic on our beach. It’s moved me to tears at times. You can see what I discovered recently on Santa Monica beaches after the first winter storm in this video.

All this plastic waste laying siege to our shorelines doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the sad byproduct of our daily “feast” of convenience. As a working mother of two, I too often partake in this feast. I am busy and tired most of the time. Using the handy excuse of harried motherhood, I have tried to absolve myself. But my faith and my planet require more. There may be no better way to renew my relationship with Mother Earth than to take responsibility for my lifestyle and the harm it may cause.

“We cannot allow our seas and oceans to be littered by endless fields of floating plastic,” Pope Francis said in Laudato Si, his major encyclical on the environment. “Our active commitment is needed to confront this emergency.”

So in order to be an agent of love, my family and I are giving up single-use plastic for the next 46 days. We have our metal sporks, plates and reusable coffee cups ready to go. I still have to  Google “how to shave legs with a safety razor,” but that’s a story for another day.

Stay tuned. I will be sharing my trials and tribulations. I’ll be toting a lot of reusable items for the family with me now. I think we’re going to need a bigger handbag!



Heal the Bay relies on dedicated volunteers to pursue our mission. Each year, we host an awards party to recognize stellar individuals who go above and beyond in their volunteer roles. Here are our 2019 Super Healer volunteers.

Super Healers inspire others in the community, they bring amazing energy to Heal the Bay, they are involved in multiple Heal the Bay programs, and they are always eager and enthusiastic to give back. Back in February, our staff donned Rock ‘n’ Roll gear to celebrate this exceptional band of rockstars: our 2019 Super Healer Volunteers!

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Drum roll, please! This year, Heal the Bay awarded one Bob Hertz Award and thirteen Super Healer Awards. Read more about these exceptional individuals below:


Big thank you to Bodega Wine Bar for hosting us. The food was delicious, and their staff was accommodating as always. We would also like to thank our volunteer party donors for the awesome raffle prize and party contributions. Many thanks to: Patagonia, Universal Studios Hollywood, The Wiltern, Pacific Park, Trapeze School NY Los Angeles, and Ben & Jerry’s. And a big shout out to event photographer (and Super Healer!) Dan Do-Linh.

Meet last year’s Super Healers.

Become a Heal the Bay Volunteer



(Photo of Santa Monica Bay taken by Lidia Grande-Ruiz on February 16, 2019.)

Los Angeles decision-makers, and leaders throughout California, announced three major initiatives this February. The moves could dramatically shift our region and state toward a sustainable future.

What a month for our natural environment! And, no, we don’t mean this crazy weather.

Our policy leaders just took a big stand against these notorious environmental offenders: single-use plastics, fossil fuels, and wasted water. Here is the rundown on what action was taken and how it directly impacts the health of our ocean and communities.

1. Solving our pollution crisis by rethinking our waste stream

New legislation has been introduced in California, which tackles single-use waste and pollution at the source! The proposed legislation will push ALL industries to meet California’s single-use waste standards — requiring single-use plastic packaging distributed or sold here to be truly recyclable or compostable by 2030. It also requires industries to decrease single-use disposables by 75 percent through source reduction or recycling.

We are so proud to help California take the lead on reducing single-use waste. Heal the Bay volunteers have removed nearly three million plastic items from our beaches over the last three decades (the most common plastic finds are polystyrene and plastic pieces, wrappers, snack bags, bottle caps, and straws).

While the bills (AB1080 & SB54) are in the early stages of development, we are thrilled to be working on this comprehensive solution that will impact generations to come. Please stay tuned for developments. And thanks to Ben Allen Lorena GonzalezScott Wiener Nancy SkinnerLaura FriedmanPhil Ting and Tasha Boerner Horvath for leading the charge!

Read More


2. Increasing our water supply with a smart plan for wastewater

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant (aka sewage treatment plant), one of the largest in the world, will recycle 100% of the City’s wastewater by the year 2035.

The water will be treated extensively and then put into our local groundwater supply for additional treatment by natural soils. Afterwards, the clean water will be pumped up to replenish our local tap water supply. Hyperion’s capacity is 450 million gallons per day and treated water currently flows out to the ocean. But with full recycling at Hyperion we can re-use that water!

Los Angeles is a big city, and pulls a significant amount of water from the Eastern Sierra and San Francisco Bay-Delta. Our local water use impacts the entire state of California. By taking smart action, we reduce our reliance on far-away water sources and become more self-sufficient.

Back in the 1990s, Heal the Bay won the fight to stop partially-treated sewage flowing from Hyperion into the Santa Monica Bay. Once again, we’re seeing the results of collective action with the new plan to treat and re-use all that water — instead of sending it uselessly to sea. Our founder Dorothy Green would be so proud of L.A. for taking this giant step forward.

Read More


3. Saying farewell to natural gas for cleaner and safer alternatives

Garcetti made another big announcement this month in favor of sustainability. He stated that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has a deadline to close three coastal gas-burning power plants in El Segundo, Long Beach and the Los Angeles Harbor area by 2029. The plants will be replaced by renewable energy sources and storage.

Not only does this drastic change help to reduce the emission of greenhouse gas, it also puts an end to the harmful practice of using ocean water for once-through cooling, which makes sea water more acidic and destroys marine and estuarine life in the process. Nearly 10 years ago, Heal the Bay was instrumental in advancing a policy to address the phase out of once-through cooling at coastal power plants in California. Finally, the tides are a-changin’.

Read More


If you squint out onto the horizon, you’ll see them. Local marine animals are jumping for joy and celebrating a brighter tomorrow.

Thank YOU for your commitment to clean water. We wouldn’t be having these critical conversations about policy without your ongoing support and advocacy.



What are some of the reasons you should visit Heal the Bay’s Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier this February?

REASON #1. Life is over-whale-ming.

Life can whale-y be crazy sometimes! So, give yourself the gift of time outside to decompress and connect with nature. We are so lucky to be able to do this during the winter in L.A. So, celebrate #WorldWhaleDay with us on Feb. 16 and make a special visit to our Aquarium for Whale of a Weekend. Aquarium naturalists will host a wildlife observation station at the west end of the Santa Monica Pier. Spy for migrating Pacific gray whales through binoculars and explore field guides to identify local birds and marine life. You’ll feel relaxed after staring out over the horizon for a bit—trust us!


REASON #2. The news is a bunch abalone

Sick of click bait? Come experience something real for a change. Featured in our newly reopened touch tank is a species of marine snail known as the Red Abalone (Hailotis rufescens). Red abalone are one of seven species of abalone found along the California coast. These animals are found in rocky areas with kelp, which serves as their most primary food source.

Unfortunately, due to overharvesting, disease, predation, and starvation, these marine snails have struggled to maintain high levels of population. As a result, the California Fish and Game Commission closed commercial abalone fishing in 1997 and have recently closed recreational fishing until 2021. Fortunately, there has been some success in the aquaculture of this species allowing for the outplanting of adults when they grow to maturity. Speak to our knowledgeable Aquarium staff to learn about abalone and how to protect them.


REASON #3. You have a case of the Mondays. 

This should help: Our Aquarium is now open on Mondays. Start your week by meeting some of the locals and exploring 100s of animal and wildlife species that call the California coast their home.

VISIT OUR AQUARIUM

 



Every year around Valentine’s Day, our Aquarium celebrates its love for whales – just in time to mark the annual migration of the Pacific gray whale.

Pacific gray whales undergo a gargantuan 10,000-mile roundtrip journey between the Arctic and Mexico each year. These gentle giants breed and give birth in the warm Baja waters in late fall/early winter before heading back north with their calves around February. The migration takes the whales through the Santa Monica Bay – sometimes close enough to be spotted from the West end of the Pier.

A photo posted by Dale Frink (@dalefrink) on

Make sure to stop by for Whale of a Weekend on February 16-17 at Heal the Bay’s Aquarium (and don’t forget to celebrate World Whale Day on Feb. 16). From baleen to blubber, you’ll leave with a ton of knowledge. Be sure to take a look through our binoculars from the observation deck; you might just spy a whale!

Our Top Ten Facts About Whales

  1. Whales only breathe through their blowholes – they can’t breathe through their mouths.
  2. There are two categories of cetaceans (whales): those with teeth and those without.
  3. Toothless whales, called baleen whales, include the Pacific gray whale, blue, humpback, fin, and right whales.
  4. Toothed whales include orcas, belugas, dolphins, narwhals, porpoises and sperm whales.
  5. Nearly 90% of all cetaceans are toothed whales.
  6. Baleen whales are the largest mammals on earth but they eat some of the smallest creatures in the ocean: tiny zooplankton.
  7. Baleen whales have two spout openings (like having two nostril openings).
  8. Toothed whales only have one spout opening.
  9. Narwhals actually only have two teeth. One of those teeth is the large spiral shaped ivory tusk that develops through their upper lip.
  10. When baleen whales blow air out of their spout, it creates a spray that sometimes comes out heart-shaped.