Heal the Bay Blog

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

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

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

 How much icky stuff reached the sea?

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

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

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

Did some media overplay this story?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What’s the difference between sewers and storm drains?

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

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

Who is responsible for maintaining the sewer system?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can residents support those efforts?

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

Make A Donation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gleason Beach realignment bridge construction (Michael Sweeney Photography)

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

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

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

The Cardiff Living Shorelines Project (Resilient Coastlines)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

2023 Was A Winning Year for Heal the Bay:

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

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

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

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

Our Super Healer Awardees

Corporate Super Healer

The Many

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


Aquarist Super Healer

Bailey Cox

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


Laia Mayne

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



Maia Flores

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


Jake Bogart

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



Public Programs Super Healers

Samantha “Sam” Spero

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



Carter Yean

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




Jackson Yean

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



Gabriel Snyder

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



Education Super Healer

Sue Liu

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





Beach Programs Super Healers

Art Salter

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




Samuel Jones


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





Jerica Covell

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




Makayla Cox

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


Community Science Super Healer Awards

MPA Watch: Olivia Rose Marie Muñoz

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

eDNA: Kate Swanson

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


Outreach Super Healer Award

Outreach: John Marshal High School, Club Heal the Bay

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



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

Take Part

Heal the Bay Reusable is Beautiful. Earth Month 2024

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

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

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

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

Heal the Bay Earth Month 2024 Calendar of Special Events

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

Get Safety Talk Certified for Earth Month -FREE

Monday, March 25, 2024: VIRTUAL or IN PERSON

Become a Heal the Bay Safety Talk Speaker!

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

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

Two-Step Training:

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

Ready to dive in? Sign up today!

 Get Safety Talk Certified

Touch Tanks on Top of The Pier – FREE

Friday, April 5 12 PM -2 PM 

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


 Plan Your Visit to the Santa Monica Pier

Plastic Pollution Advocacy Training (VIRTUAL) -FREE

Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 6 PM – 7 PM

Calling All Environmental Warriors!

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

Master the tools to make a difference:

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

Become a voice for change:

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

Help Heal the Bay 5 Gyres depose the disposables!

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

 Register to get the Zoom Link

April Nothin’ But Sand Beach Cleanup -FREE

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

Earth Month Beach Cleanup Leveled Up!

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

 Register for Nothin’ But Sand

Celebrate Earth Day at Heal the Bay Aquarium 

Saturday, April 20, 11 AM – 4 PM

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

Saturday, April 20, 11 AM – 4 PM

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

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

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

 Plan Your Visit

2024 LA City Nature Challenge BioBlitz -FREE

Saturday, April 27, 2024

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


Wake & Dance with DAYBREAKER @ Santa Monica Pier

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

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

 Get Your Tickets

Rising Tides Discussion Panel @ Hermosa Beach Community Center -FREE

Sunday, April 28, 2024, 3 PM

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

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

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

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


Stussy x Heal the Bay Collaboration Launch 

Friday, May 3, 2024, 9 AM

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

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

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



All Earth-Month-Long at Heal the Bay 

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

Heal the Bay Reusable is Beautiful. Earth Month 2024

 FREE Beach Wheelchair Rentals @ Heal the Bay Aquarium 

April 2024, 9:30 AM – 11 AM

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

Pick Up Location Details

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions? Contact Heal the Bay Aquarium

“Hold the plastic, please!” #Selfie Challenge

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

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

Here’s the deal:

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

2)Snap a selfie with your HTPP card♻️

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

Win epic Heal the Bay swag for showing your support!

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

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

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

Download a Hold the plastic, please! Card

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

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

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


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

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

Member” Ship” Includes:

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

Become a Member TODAY!

Gear Up for Earth Day with Heal the Bay 

Level up your drip while leveling up the ocean!

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

Shop Heal the Bay

Heal the Bay Earth Month 2024 Tabling Calendar 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SONY Pictures Entertainment Earth Month, April 18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Celebrate the Earth beyond April

APPLY TODAY – 2024 Coastal Clean-Up Day Poster ARTIST

Calling all ocean-loving artists!

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

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

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

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

Show us your vision!

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

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

Apply Here

Bring Back the Beach Gala

Celebrate #ReusableIsBeautiful


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

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

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


Coastal Cleanup Day Site Captain Training

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


LA’s biggest volunteer event returns!

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

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

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

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


Make waves for a sustainable future in Greater Los Angeles by making your Earth Month donation to Heal the Bay.


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 (

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


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. (

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 (

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 (


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. 


Machado Lake in Ken Malloy Regional Park, Harbor City 

Source: Safe Clean Water Team (

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


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. 

Heal the Bay and Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation have been collaborating to reduce impacts to the Santa Clara River Estuary from the Ventura Water Reclamation Facility since 2011, following a legal settlement (consent decree) with the City of Ventura. After more than a decade of scientific studies, bureaucratic negotiations, infrastructure planning, and a lengthy permitting process, we are excited that the VenturaWaterPure project is moving forward. The project will provide a net benefit to the estuary by reducing discharge of treated wastewater from the facility, which has a multitude of negative impacts on water and habitat quality in the estuary. 

On December 15, 2024, Heal the Bay joined our consent decree partners along with Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Michael Brain, to celebrate this water recycling and ecosystem restoration project. 

Heal the Bay’s Associate Director, Science & Policy (Water Quality) Annelisa Moe (left) attends the VenturaWaterPure press conference.

Under CA State law, discharging treated wastewater is considered an unreasonable use of that water, and is therefore illegal, unless it provides an environmental benefit. Unfortunately, based on conclusions from a Science Panel and Technical Advisory Committee, treated wastewater flow into the naturally brackish Santa Clara River Estuary does not benefit the ecosystem, but actually negatively affects it in a variety of ways: 

  • Decreases salinity variability, which is favorable for invasive species 
  • Increases levels of nitrate and other nutrients leading to low dissolved oxygen levels, which is harmful to the entire ecosystem 
  • Heightens the water level in the estuary leading to local flooding at McGrath State Park and unseasonal estuary berm breach events, which impedes public access and is harmful to native and listed species 

So the City of Ventura has committed to dramatically reduce their discharge to the estuary and limit nutrient loading in any remaining discharge through the VenturaWaterPure project. The project also offers a co-benefit of up to 1.76 billion gallons of new recycled water supply for the City of Ventura by 2032. This supports the human right to water using an approach that is environmentally protective and affordable, especially when compared to other methods such as importing water, or using ocean water desalination.  

Heal the Bay will continue to work closely with Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation and City of Ventura to ensure the transition to reduced discharge is protective of the estuary, that the new brine discharge to the ocean is done responsibly using the best available technology, and that the existing treatment ponds (which currently serve as important bird habitat) remain protected as part of the final VenturaWaterPure project.

Support Heal the Bay’s mission to protect public health through clean water policy:

Make A Donation

Read More:

Heal the Bay’s 2011 report on The Santa Clara River estuary

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visits Ventura water treatment project, Ventura County Star

Take time to commemorate this Black History Month and learn about the African American environmentalists who helped shape our environmental history.

Advocating for Environmental justice is a pillar of Heal the Bay’s decades-long mission, but environmental justice cannot exist without racial justice. The historical reality is staggering: Black communities in the US have borne the brunt of pollution, climate change, and limited access to green spaces. This systemic injustice demands immediate action.

But amidst the struggle, hope emerges. Let’s celebrate some Black luminaries in the environmental movement who have paved the way for a brighter future. These inspiring leaders have created invaluable space and opportunities, empowering the next generation of young Black voices fighting for a just and sustainable planet.

Enjoy our micro-museum and let it inspire a more profound journey into the history of environmental justice and its pioneers.

Please view our list of resources, including a list of non-profit organizations established to engage and serve local black communities and beyond and events to continue your education and celebration of Black History Month!




Black leaders in both the American environmental justice and environmentalist movement.

Majora Carter

Dr. Robert Bullard

Inell Woods

Charles Young

Lisa P Jackson

Dr. John Francis

Margie Eugene-Richard

Nick Gabaldón


Majora Carter’s impact transcends titles from South Bronx activist to national changemaker. More than just an award-winning strategist and broadcaster, she’s a John D. and Katherine T. McArthur Foundation Genius Grant” recipient whose groundbreaking work redefined urban renewal, environmental protection, and restoration. In the 1990s, she ignited hope in her community by transforming a mere $10k grant into South Bronx’s first waterfront park in 60 years, a testament to her unwavering belief that “no community should shoulder more burdens than benefits.”

This wasn’t just a park; it was a catalyst. Carter went on to found Sustainable South Bronx, empowering residents to reclaim their environmental rights and fight for green spaces. Today, her Majora Carter Group continues this legacy, equipping low-income communities across the US with the tools and strategies to build healthier, revitalized environments, fostering prosperity and resilience.

Inspired? Dive deeper into Carter’s journey through her powerful TED Talk “Greening the Ghetto” and learn more about her fight for environmental justice.

Majora Carter: Greening the ghetto | TED Talk

#Enviornmentaljustice history is still being made. #Black history is environmental history.


Dr. Robert D. Bullard, a sociologist and American academic, is regarded as the “father of environmental justice.” His decades of leadership as an advocate and educator continue to shape the future of environmental equity for marginalized communities.

From Marine Corps sergeant to “father of environmental justice,” Dr. Robert D. Bullard’s life is a testament to tireless advocacy and groundbreaking research. After serving his country, Bullard dedicated himself to academia, earning degrees in government studies (Alabama A&M), an M.A. in sociology at Atlanta University (Clark Atlanta University), and culminating in a Ph.D. (Iowa State University). His dedication bore fruit in the 1978 landmark Bean vs. Southern Waste Management lawsuit, where he led research exposing the discriminatory placement of toxic waste facilities near communities of color. His findings revealed that “Black neighborhoods were the predominant site for most of the solid waste disposal sites in Houston, yet they represented only 25% of the total population,” and that race was the “driving force behind this environmental injustice.”

His research, later published in Solid Waste Sites and the Black Houston Community,” sparked national outrage and became the first major study to document environmental racism.

Bullard’s impact extends far beyond one case. He co-founded the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, fostering collaboration and establishing core principles of the modern environmental justice movement. These principles were championed by Bullard at the federal level, influencing the Clinton administration’s Executive Order on environmental justice and earning him a recent appointment to the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council under President Biden.


Community activism and environmental justice go hand-in-hand.

Although Woods was not primarily known for environmental work, this tireless community activist who championed fairness and inclusion for South LA will soon have her legacy etched in green space. After a decade of dedicated work on the part of Heal the Bay, local government officials, and the community itself, the empty lot that once encouraged the very disparities that often impact inner-city communities of color across the street from her long-time home will finally become a “safe green space” bearing the name “Inell Woods Park.”

More than just a park, this space embodies the values Mrs. Woods fought for throughout her life. From rallying for seniors and organizing meal programs to advocating for green spaces in neighborhoods like the South LA community of Green Medows, she understood the interconnectedness of community well-being and environmental justice.

Recognizing this connection, the park itself is designed with sustainability in mind. Native plants will reduce long-term potable water needs, and shade trees will be added as a crucial step in addressing the urban heat island effect that disproportionately impacts regional communities of color like South LA.

Beyond aesthetics, Inell Woods Park is a testament to community activism’s power and ability to create lasting positive change. As South LA’s first “stormwater park,” the space was designed to capture rainwater, and a Permavoid system will be used to treat stormwater. The park’s innovative stormwater system is designed to reuse 16,000 gallons of water, starkly contrasting traditional irrigation methods and showcasing a commitment to environmental responsibility.

This long-awaited space is more than just a park; it’s a symbol of hope, resilience, and a thriving future for South LA, forever intertwined with the legacy of Mrs. Inell Woods.

At the future park’s community awareness event in 2022, City Councilman Price took time to commemorate the namesake of the site: “I am honored to name our newest park Inell Woods, in honor of a community champion who spent her life advocating for fairness, inclusion and ensuring the South L.A. community was supported,” Price said. “This park is the community’s gift to Mrs. Woods and the tremendous legacy she has left behind.”


After ten years of work, plans have been finalized to break ground on this space in the Spring of 2024. Learn more about the park: Inell Woods Park 2024 Fact Sheet


Charles Young was the highest-ranking African-American commanding officer in the United States Army from 1894 until his death in 1922. He also served as the first African-American superintendent of a national park, overseeing Sequoia and [Kings Canyon] National Parks while commanding a troop of Buffalo Soldiers in the years before the creation of the National Park Service.

Born to enslaved parents in Kentucky in 1864, Young’s parents, Gabriel and Arminta Young, moved to Ripley, Ohio, in 1866 with their two-year-old son Charles to improve their prospects after the Civil War. In 1889, Charles Young was the third African American to graduate from West Point.

Colonel Charles Young’s story and leadership are symbolic of the experience of the Buffalo Soldiers during difficult and racially tense times.

In 1866, the Congress established six all-black regiments, later consolidated to four, to help rebuild the country after the Civil War and to patrol the remote western frontier.

“The Buffalo Soldiers were an important part of the early history of America’s national parks. Before Congress created the National Park Service in 1916, the U.S. Army was critical in administering several parks. The Army sent the Buffalo Soldiers to manage Yosemite, [Kings Canyon], and Sequoia National Parks in California. The Buffalo Soldiers blazed early park trails, built roads, produced maps, drove out trespassing livestock, extinguished fires, monitored tourists, and kept poachers and loggers at bay.”



Lisa P. Jackson, the first African-American EPA Administrator, has created a powerful legacy for Black History Month and beyond. She has spent her career breaking barriers, championed critical environmental advancements during her tenure with the EPA (2009-2013), and was featured on Time magazine’s 2010 and 2011 lists of the “100 Most Influential People in the World”. There is so much she has done and continues to do to protect our planet!

“During her tenure from 2009 to 2013, Administrator Lisa P. Jackson focused on seven priorities for EPA’s future: taking action on climate change; improving air quality; cleaning up our communities; protecting America’s waters; assuring the safety of chemicals; expanding the conversation on environmentalism and working for environmental justice; and building stronger state and tribal partnerships.” (EPA.GOV)

Jackson tackled climate change head-on, paving the way for EPA action with her 2009 endangerment finding on greenhouse gases. Her focus extended beyond improving air quality, cleaning communities, protecting waterways, and ensuring chemical safety. She didn’t just talk the talk – she implemented clean air standards and a groundbreaking clean cars program, leading to more fuel-efficient vehicles.

But Jackson’s impact goes deeper. She prioritized environmental justice, empowering historically underrepresented communities and strengthening protections for vulnerable groups. This legacy of action, inclusion, and progress makes her a true inspiration for environmental movements everywhere.


The collision of two oil tankers and the subsequent environmental destruction wrought by this infamous oil spill sent Dr. John Francis, known as “Planetwalker,” on a remarkable journey that transformed him into a renowned conservationist, educator, and bestselling author. After witnessing the devastating San Francisco Bay oil spill in 1971, Francis made a radical choice: he walked. For 22 years, he shunned motorized vehicles, traversing the US and Latin America on foot, all while earning a Ph.D. in Land Management.

But his commitment went beyond movement. He took a powerful 17-year vow of silence to amplify environmental awareness, breaking it only on Earth Day 1990. From then on, Dr. Francis dedicated himself to conservation, becoming an influential voice in policy and education.

His achievements are as impressive as his journey. He is the National Geographic Society’s first Education Fellow, a UN Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador, and an acclaimed author. He even played a crucial role in crafting oil spill regulations after the Exxon Valdez disaster, earning recognition from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Dr. Francis’ story isn’t just about walking; it’s about action. He inspires us to challenge norms, speak up for our planet, and dedicate ourselves to creating a more sustainable future.


In Norco, Louisiana, the predominantly Black community of Old Diamond found itself squeezed between a Shell Chemical plant and an oil refinery. Fear of accidents and the harsh reality of elevated cancer, congenital disabilities, and respiratory issues were everyday life. These stemmed from decades of environmental contamination.

 After years of being subjected to these environmental risks and following her sister’s death from a rare bacterial infection, Margie Richard founded the Concerned Citizens of Norco (CCN) in the early 1990s. This environmental justice group demanded a solution: fair resettlement. Years of tireless leadership, including commissioning a community-based air quality study, finally paid off. In 2002, CCN secured a historic agreement with Shell, leading to the relocation of Old Diamond residents to safer communities.

 Margie Richard’s unwavering efforts made her a pioneer of the environmental justice movement. In 2004, she became the first African-American to receive the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, a testament to her impact.

Margie Eugene-Richard (1941-present) is a powerhouse in environmental justice. Her campaign to stop significant corporations from polluting her family home led to one of the most significant environmental lawsuits in recent history.


Amidst the discriminatory Jim Crow era, Santa Monica Beach reflected the harsh reality of divided shores. “Inkwell Beach,” a meager 200-foot zone restricted to Black beachgoers, served as Nick Gabaldon’s unlikely launching pad. Here, he defied boundaries, teaching himself to surf on a borrowed lifeguard’s paddleboard, carving his name as the first documented African American Latinx surfer of Santa Monica Bay.

But Nick’s spirit couldn’t be confined by ropes or prejudices. Undeterred by the lack of a car, he embarked on 12-mile paddle journeys to Malibu, the epicenter of West Coast surfing. Despite being the only Black surfer, he found acceptance among the predominantly white community.

Then, on June 5th, 1951, tragedy struck. Nick, drawn by the allure of an eight-foot swell, paddled his usual 12 miles to ride the mythic Malibu Pier righthander. After catching a legendary wave, he attempted a daring maneuver – shooting the pier itself. Sadly, his board was found, but his body wouldn’t resurface until days later. Nick, at just 24, lost his life to the sea’s unpredictable power.

Eerily prescient, Nick had penned a poem titled “Lost Lives” for his Santa Monica City College literary magazine six days before his fatal attempt. Its haunting lines echoed the ocean’s dark allure:

The sea vindictive, with waves so high
For men to battle and still they die.
Many has it taken to its bowels below;

Without regard it thus does bestow
Its laurels to unwary men.

Nick Gabaldón, the trailblazing surfer, left behind a legacy not just of his skill, but of his courage and spirit, forever etched in the waves of history.


The “Black in Marine Science” Spotlight

Swipe through the Black in Marine Science List of “6 Black Marine Scientists You Should Know About“. Follow @blackinmarinescience  to learn more about this “premier organization aimed to celebrate Black marine scientists, spread environmental awareness, and inspire the next generation of scientific thought leaders.”

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Get Engaged- Check out this list of Black History Celebrations and activations in Los Angeles.

Get Activated Download this list of  Non-profit Organizations established to engage and serve local black communities and beyond.

Join community scientists in California to observe and document the King Tides on February 9, 2024. This extreme high tide event provides a glimpse of what we face with climate-driven sea level rise. Your images will contribute to a better understanding of how to adapt to and combat the climate crisis. Get a glimpse of last winter’s King Tide.


Capture the King Tide this February!

King Tides are a wave phenomenon that can only be witnessed a few times a year when the high tide is at its highest and the low tide is at its lowest. These extreme tides only come to shore when the moon is closest to the Earth and when the Earth is closest to the Sun. King Tides can teach California so much about the changing coastline, if their impact can be captured.

This February, Heal the Bay is calling on all local beach lovers to hit the sand and help us document these extreme tides.  Taking pictures and recording this natural phenomenon can help climate scientists predict the future of California’s coastline in preparation of impending sea level rise, which is the first step toward adapting for and combating the climate crisis. Last year your observations were vital to prepare Los Angeles for a future affected by climate change and we need your help once again.

The second King Tides event of this season will occur on February 9,2024 at : 8:16 AM. Once again, we are calling on all those who love the California coast to help capture the King Tide.


Let’s Capture the King Tide Together

Don’t want to face the big wave alone? Come capture the King Tide with other climate community members during the February phenomenon.

FREE King Tides EVENT @ Heal the Bay Aquarium with Climate Action Santa Monica 

Date: February 9, 2024

Time: 7:30 am -9:30 am

Address: Heal the Bay Aquarium 1600 Ocean Front Walk Santa Monica, CA 90401 – Base of Santa Monica Beach Pier (by the bike path)

Head to Heal the Bay Aquarium for a King Tide community science event lead by Climate Action Santa Monica. Hit the beach and help document the King Tide by capturing pictures of this ocean phenomenon alongside community and climate scientists as part of the California King Tides Project. This phenomenon will be FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMLIY! Join in the community discussion and discover the relationship between sea level rise and climate change alongside students and other climate community members.

RSVP to save your spot! 

Not in Los Angeles?

Check out this list of 2024 King Tide Events with the California King Tides Project to observe and help capture the impact of these waves wherever you are on the CA coast.

Our Guide to Capturing the King Tide Guide

How to capture the King Tide on your own!

Instructions from the CA Coastal Commission:
1) Find your local high tide time for one of the King Tides dates.
2) Visit the shoreline on the coast, bay, or delta.
3) Be aware of your surroundings to ensure you are safe and are not disturbing any animals.
4) Make sure your phone’s location services are turned on for your camera and then take your photo. The best photos show the water level next to familiar landmarks such as cliffs, rocks, roads, buildings, bridge supports, sea walls, staircases, and piers.
5) Add your photo to the King Tides map either by uploading it via the website or by using the Survey123 app.


Sea Level Rise

Before we get into the details of this year’s King Tides event, let’s begin with the larger context of sea level rise. Humans are polluting Earth’s atmosphere with greenhouse gases (GHGs) like CO2, primarily through the burning of fossil fuels, driving average global temperatures up at an unprecedented rate.

Oceans have helped to buffer this steady pollution stream by absorbing 90% of our excess heat and 25% of our CO2 emissions. This, among myriad impacts, has increased sea temperatures, causing ocean water to expand. The combination of ocean water expansion and new water input from the melting of landlocked glaciers results in rapid sea level rise.

Take a look at images from the NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer. Light blue shows areas expected to flood consistently as sea levels rise. Bright green shows low-lying areas vulnerable to flooding from groundwater upwelling as seawater intrusion increases. 

According to the 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, sea level will rise 2 feet by 2100 even if efforts are made to lower GHG emissions, and possibly as much as 7 feet by 2100 if we continue with “business as usual” (i.e., burning fossil fuels at the current unsustainable rate). Rapid sea level rise threatens beach loss, coastal and intertidal habitat loss, seawater intrusion into our groundwater supply (which could contaminate our drinking water supply and cause inland flooding from groundwater upwelling), as well as impacts from flooding or cliff erosion on coastal infrastructures like roads, homes, businesses, power plants and sewage treatment plants—not to mention nearby toxic sites.

King Tides: A Glimpse of Future Sea Levels

Ocean tides on Earth are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon (and the sun, to a lesser extent) on our oceans. When the moon is closest to Earth along its elliptical orbit, and when the moon, earth, and sun are aligned, gravitational pull compounds, causing extreme high and low tides called Perigean-Spring Tides or King Tides. These extreme tides provide a glimpse of future sea level rise.

Image courtesy of NOAA National Ocean Service.

In fact, King Tides in Southern California this December and January are expected to be 2-3 feet higher than normal high tides (and lower than normal low tides), providing a clear snapshot of what the regular daily high tides will likely be by 2100.


What is being done

Many coastal cities in California have developed Local Coastal Programs in coordination with the CA Coastal Commission to address sea level rise. The Coastal Commission is also developing new sea level rise guidance for critical infrastructure, recently released for public review. Unfortunately, if we continue with “business as usual,” the rate of sea level rise will occur much more quickly than we can adapt to it, which is why we need bold global action now to combat the climate crisis and limit sea level rise as much as possible.

What you can do

Motivated people like you can become community scientists by submitting King Tides photographs the weekend of December 23 and 24, 2022 to contribute to the digital storytelling of sea level rise. These photos are used to better understand the climate crisis, to educate people about the impacts, to catalog at-risk communities and infrastructure, and plan for mitigation and adaptation. Join the Coastal Commission in their CA King Tides Project!

Get involved in #KingTides events

Instructions from the CA Coastal Commission:
1) Find your local high tide time for one of the King Tides dates.
2) Visit the shoreline on the coast, bay, or delta.
3) Be aware of your surroundings to ensure you are safe and are not disturbing any animals.
4) Make sure your phone’s location services are turned on for your camera and then take your photo. The best photos show the water level next to familiar landmarks such as cliffs, rocks, roads, buildings, bridge supports, sea walls, staircases, and piers.
5) Add your photo to the King Tides map either by uploading it via the website or by using the Survey123 app.


In the Los Angeles area? Here are some areas we expect will have noticeable King Tides:

In Palos Verdes, we recommend: Pelican Cove, Terrenea Beach, White Point Beach, and Point Fermin. In Malibu, we suggest: Paradise Cove, Westward Beach, Broad Beach, El Pescador State Beach, and Leo Carrillo State Beach.





Written by Annelisa Moe. As a Coastal and Marine Scientist for Heal the Bay, Annelisa works to keep our oceans and marine ecosystems healthy and clean by advocating for strong legislation and enforcement both locally and statewide. She focuses on plastic pollution, marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, and climate change related issues.

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

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


What is the Presidential Volunteer Service Award?

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

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

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

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

Ready to apply for your Presidential Award?

Volunteer Eligibility: 

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

Eligible Service: 

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

Service hours vs Award Distinction


How to apply:  

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


Thank You for All That You Do! 

Storm drains dump untreated, unsafe water on our beaches – Heal the Bay’s Storm Response Team gives you the safety guidelines to get out a cleanup and stop the trash before it reaches our marine life neighbors at the coastline.

UPDATE 1/3/2023

The first storms of 2024 have brought 0.25-0.5 inches of rain to the Los Angeles Area Basin, which amounts to over 1 inch of rain in some areas over the past seven days, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s California and Nevada River Forecast Center. As part of the Storm Response Team, we ask you to join us in protecting our ocean from inland plastic pollution by removing debris from gutters, sidewalks, and hiking trails while the weather stays dry.

Ready to take the next step? Complete the virtual training to be added to
Heal the Bay’s Storm Response Team.

Watch the Training Video

Stay safe and follow our extended self-guided cleanup safety tips for post-storm and atmospheric river conditions.

DOWNLOAD Our Self-Guided Cleanup Tips


The California coast has also been experiencing extremely high surf conditions due to a phenomenon called King Tides. According to the California Coastal Commission, the term “King Tide” is used to describe very high tides, caused by the combined gravitational pull when the sun, moon, and Earth are fully aligned with one another. The next King Tides will be on January 11-12, 2024. If helping eliminate marine debris isn’t enough community action for you, we encourage you to take part in the California King Tides Project by taking and sharing pictures of high tide events to help record how our coastline is changing in the face of sea level rise.

The combined effect of heavy rain and dangerously high tides is a very powerful combination, with storms washing all manner of debris down storm drains, through our watershed, and big waves bringing trash from the ocean back to the shore. Our local coastal environment could use our help. Join Heal the Bay and the Storm Response team in ensuring Los Angles starts the new year with safe and clean coastlines!

Then join us for our first Nothin’ But Sand Cleanup of 2024 on Saturday, January 20. 2024 and help make an even bigger impact alongside other environmental activists and beach lovers. RSVP to reserve a bucket. 

UPDATE 11/15/2023

The slow-moving Pacific Storm making its way through Los Angeles County is expected to bring 1-2 inches of rain from Wednesday to Saturday. This first flush of the season will send more than 20 billion gallons of water rushing through the city bringing accumulated debris from our gutters, storm drains, and waterways out to the beach.

Please join the Heal the Bay Storm Response Team to protect our coastal waters this rainy season.

Ready to take the next step? Complete the virtual training to be added to
Heal the Bay’s Storm Response Team.

Watch the Training Video

Stay safe and follow our extended self-guided cleanup safety tips for post-storm and atmospheric river conditions.

DOWNLOAD Our Self-Guided Cleanup Tips

EACH TIME IT RAINS, the Los Angeles storm drain system rushes untreated water and all the debris that litters our streets, gutters, and sidewalks right into our beaches and coastline. Cleaning up the mess made by these trash-freeways in our community calls for the help of our trusty Storm Response Team! Made up of Heal the Bay staff and dedicated volunteers, the Storm Response Team acts as the last line of defense, removing garbage washed out of the storm drain system and local waterways before it reaches the ocean. Interested in conducting your own Storm Response Team deployment? Please remember to stay safe and follow our extended self-guided cleanup safety tips for post-storm and atmospheric river conditions. 

📄 Download: Self-Guided Cleanup Tips – Storm Response and Atmospheric River Conditions

When the call goes out, the Team puts on their rubber boots, gloves, and raincoats and goes out during low tide or during a break in the rain to local catch basins and outfalls, gathering as much trash as they can. Pollution and litter upstream are swept through the system and, while the Heal the Bay team attempts to get out there quickly, a barrage of atmospheric rivers dousing our southland can make it extremely difficult to stave the flow of trash, debris, and unsafe particulates. We are encouraged by the volunteers who have reached out about helping to do individual clean ups, but we must warn that it is a filthy job and volunteers should proceed with caution.  

Heal the Bay is constantly advocating for upstream solutions that would stop the flow of pollution into our local waterways and prevent the need for storm response teams in the future. Reducing single-use plastics and polystyrene, the technical term for products commonly referred to as styrofoam, has a significant impact on reducing the amount of trash that reaches our oceans.   

Heal the Bay also supports efforts to collect, treat, and use stormwater. Measure W, passed in 2018, provides funding for local stormwater capture, treatment, and reuse projects. These efforts will drastically reduce our reliance on imported water, reduce pollution in our local waterways and coastal waters, and reduce risks to public health.  

👉 Get caught up: Learn more about Heal the Bay’s efforts in getting Measure W passed and it’s implementation. 

Tips for all Angelenos during #LARain: 

  • Stay out of the water. The County of Los Angeles Environmental Health Department and Heal the Bay urge residents and visitors to avoid water contact at Los Angeles County beaches for at least 72 hours following rain event. Check our Beach Report Card website or app before your next swim along the coast. 
  • Avoid low-lying areas and stay up to date on all local weather alerts 
  • Know the flow. Test your water knowledge, and share insights about rainwater runoff and where Los Angeles gets its water in your community. 





Written by Stephanie Gebhardt. As our Beach Programs Manager, Stephanie organizes Heal the Bay’s beach cleanups and community beautification projects. With experience in sustainability consulting and science communication, she unites Angelenos in protecting what they love.