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Heal the Bay Blog

Ever wonder what it’s like to be an Aquarist at Heal the Bay Aquarium? Laura Rink, Associate Aquarium Director of Operations, spills on a day in the life.

A jack (fish) of all trades is a fitting description for what it takes to run the operations of a Heal the Bay Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier.

Sometimes it feels like everything under the sun (fish) can be required. From filthy filters, to growing baby jellies, to system designs and adventures on our beloved Dorothy Green Boat, there is never a dull day.

While the day-to-day operations are ever changing, the purpose remains clear and constant. My job is to create and maintain exhibits for aquatic animals with the mission to inspire a world filled with humans who care about protecting wildlife and conserve our natural resources to allow diverse species to thrive.


Laura Rink presents at the PBS Nature event on July 30, 2019. Photos by Rahoul Ghose/PBS

Although rare, it is sometimes requested that we bring our animal ambassadors to offsite locations. This occasion presented itself recently when I traveled with our East Pacific Red Octopus to a PBS Nature event.

Fondly referred to as the “cats” of the cephalopods, octopuses are notorious for choosing to be social, if, and only if, they so desire to be. Fortunately, on this occasion she embraced the audience with all eight arms, showing how enriching the experience was for both her and the humans who encountered her.

If you’d like to learn more about the marine animals that call the SoCal coast home, come visit us at Heal the Bay Aquarium and sign up for our next Volunteer Orientation to go behind-the-scenes.

All fish puns are entirely intended with the nerdiest of intents.



Prioritizing water quality, nature-based solutions, sustained community engagement, equity, and good local jobs!

Los Angeles County made history last November when voters overwhelmingly approved Measure W (the Safe, Clean Water Program) to revamp our outdated stormwater system! And this vote did not come a moment too soon. In the 2018-2019 rain season, 18.8 inches of rain fell over Los Angeles County. This equates to almost 200 billion gallons of stormwater flowing through our streets, into our waterways and out to the ocean, picking up pollutants along the way that pose serious risks to public and environmental health. We can no longer stand to let stormwater pollute our waters, and we can no longer afford to let good rain years go to waste.

There is good news: Thanks to LA County voters, we now have the Safe, Clean Water Program to fund stormwater projects throughout our region to capture, clean, and reuse this water resource! Heal the Bay (a core team member of the OurWaterLA Coalition), along with our dedicated members and volunteers, played a huge roll in this victory vote in November 2018. Since then, OurWaterLA has continued to work closely with County staff to implement the Program.

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Shelley Luce, Heal the Bay CEO, shares a public comment about prioritizing nature-based solutions and equity in the implementation ordinance. (Photo by Alex Choy)

Today, the Safe, Clean Water Program moved forward with a unanimous vote by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to approve the Implementation Ordinance, reiterating the County’s commitment to improve water quality and public health, prioritize nature-based solutions, promote local jobs, and provide multiple benefits to our communities. Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis also called for a multi-agency committee to help coordinate efforts to implement multi-benefit projects, which will allow for the leveraging of funds from other sources including Measure M, Measure A, and Measure H.

However, there is still work to be done to ensure that these promises are kept as the Program rolls out. Although the Implementation Ordinance is finalized, many of the important supporting documents are still in development, and do not yet reflect the goals listed above. OurWaterLA turned out in full force to make recommendations for how these supporting documents can be strengthened to prioritize nature-based solutions, community voices, equity, and local jobs.

The Board of Supervisors also voted to appoint 107 members to the Watershed Area Steering Committees and the Regional Oversight Committee. These committees will decide how the Regional Program funds will be spent. But our work is not done! These funding decisions must be made with consideration given to community input. Search your address and find out which watershed area you are in, then see a list of your Watershed Area Steering Committee members, and get to know your committee representatives.

As you peruse the list of committee members, you will recognize one of them already! Heal the Bay President and CEO, Shelley Luce, has been appointed to the Regional Oversight Committee, which reviews the funding decisions for each of the nine Watershed Area Steering Committees.

Heal the Bay will continue to play a pivotal role as implementation moves forward. Committees will start to meet by the end of summer 2019, calling for projects in the fall, which will receive funding as soon as it is available in spring 2020. Stay tuned in the coming months to hear about exciting projects that will be funded by the Safe, Clean Water Program!



Every year, Heal the Bay staff scientists assign A-to-F letter grades to beaches all along the California coast. These grades are based on bacteria pollution and help inform public health. This year, 94% of 500 California beaches received an A or B grade for the busy summer season. However, several beaches are on our list of no-goes.

We’re announcing our 2018-2019 Beach Bummers List, a ranking of the 10 most polluted beaches in the state based on levels of harmful bacteria. This year, 5 of the 10 Beach Bummers are from Southern California, including Cabrillo Beach (harborside) and Marina del Rey Mother’s Beach in L.A. County.

Polluted ocean waters are a significant health risk to beach-goers. We encourage all beach-goers to use this list (and our Beach Report Card) when planning a trip to the ocean! Because a day at the beach shouldn’t make anyone sick.

Read the Beach Report Card highlights

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5. Cowell Beach, Santa Cruz County (Photo Credit: Suzanne Healy)

How to stay safe at the beach

  • Check beachreportcard.org for latest water quality grades (available on iOS & Android)
  • Avoid shallow, enclosed beaches with poor water circulation
  • Swim at least 100 yards away from flowing storm drains, creeks, and piers
  • Stay out of the water for at least 72-hours after a rain event

Coming into contact with beach water that has a grade of C or lower greatly increases the risk of contracting illnesses such as stomach flu, ear infections, upper respiratory infections, and rashes. For a detailed look at beach results by location, why some beaches are more vulnerable to higher levels of pollution, and more information, refer to our complete report.

Read the full Beach Report Card

Read the summary en Español



Heal the Bay is stoked to release the 29th annual Beach Report Card, because a day at the beach shouldn’t make anyone sick. This report assigns A-to-F letter grades for 500 California beaches, based on weekly levels of bacterial pollution in the ocean.

So, what did our staff scientists find? Here are our major takeaways:

  • California beach water quality sagged in 2018-19, driven in large part by increased rainfall. California often swings from extended dry periods to shorter periods of intense, wet weather. When rains do increase, as we saw in the 2018-2019 winter season, the State of California needs to do a better job of capturing, treating, and reusing runoff so it can be a resource, not a nuisance.
  • More rain means more bacteria-ridden runoff carried to the sea via the stormdrain system. Accordingly, bacterial pollution at our local beaches dipped dramatically in 2018-2019. Only 54% of the beaches received an A or B grade during wet weather, which is an eight percentage point decrease from the state’s five-year average.
  • In a positive sign, Some 94% of the beaches monitored in Southern California earned A grades during the busy summer season.
  • Overall, 33 California beaches made it on Heal the Bay’s coveted Honor Roll this year, which is lower than last year (37) likely due to higher than average rainfall. To make it on the Honor Roll the beach must be monitored year-round and score perfect A+ grades each week in all seasons and weather conditions. You can see the full list on page 12 of the report.
  • San Clemente Pier in Orange County has the dubious honor of holding the top spot on our Beach Bummer List this year. For the full list, please see page 16 of the report.
  • Northern California beaches had excellent summer water quality on par with its five-year average of 94% A’s and B’s. Clam Beach in Humboldt County is the only NorCal beach on the Beach Bummer List. No NorCal beaches made the Honor Roll.
  • Central California beaches (which includes San Francisco County) had great water quality during summer months with 92% of its beaches earning an A or B grade. Linda Mar Beach and Aquatic Park in San Mateo County are on the Beach Bummer List along with Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz County. Keller Beach South Beach is new to the Beach Bummer List. Five Central Coast beaches made the Honor Roll.
  • Southern California beaches had excellent yet slightly below average grades with 95% of the beaches receiving A’s or B’s for their summer dry grades. Five of the Beach Bummers are from SoCal, including the troubled Cabrillo Beach (harborside) and Marina del Rey Mother’s Beach in L.A. County. 28 out of the 33 beaches on the Honor Roll are located in SoCal.
  • We investigated the impact of the Woolsey Fire on Malibu beaches and found that water quality grades decreased dramatically after the fire. Wildfires increase runoff due to vegetation loss and infrastructure damage. As the effects of climate change are realized, we can expect more wildfires and more rainfall across coastal areas of California, which can have a negative impact on water quality and public health if no preventative actions are taken to protect our communities and natural habitats.

How to avoid risky water quality at California beaches:

  • Check beachreportcard.org for latest water quality grades (available on iOS & Android)
  • Avoid shallow, enclosed beaches with poor water circulation
  • Swim at least 100 yards away from flowing storm drains, creeks, and piers
  • Stay out of the water for at least 72-hours after a rain event

You can get a county-by-county, beach-by-beach breakdown in the full report.

Download our press release.

Download the Report

Download the Executive Summary En Español

View the Top 10 Beach Bummers

Donate To Support This Work


About the Beach Report Card with NowCast

The annual Beach Report Card includes an analysis of water quality for three time periods: summer dry season (April through October 2018), winter dry weather (November 2018 through March 2019) and year-round wet weather conditions. The grading methodology is endorsed by the State Water Resources Control Board.

All county health departments in California are required to test beach water quality samples for fecal indicator bacteria at least once a week during the summer season. Many counties also monitor heavily used beaches year-round. Heal the Bay compiles the complex shoreline data, analyzes it, and assigns an easy-to-understand letter grade.

This summer, Heal the Bay scientists will expand NowCast – a daily water quality monitoring service at 20 popular beaches in California – in addition to providing weekly water quality grades for 500 beaches statewide. Using sophisticated machine learning, environmental science data, and past bacteria samples, Heal the Bay accurately predicts each morning when beaches should be posted with warning or open signs because of potential bacterial pollution. These new models will protect public health by providing more advanced water quality information to public health officials and beachgoers.

Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card is made possible through the generous support of SIMA Environmental Fund, Swain Barber Foundation, and Water Foundation.

For a detailed look at beach results by location, why some beach types are more vulnerable to higher levels of pollution, and detailed report methodology, please refer to our complete report. A PDF version of the 2018-19 annual Beach Report Card is available to download at https://healthebay.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/BRC_2019_FINAL2.pdf



World Oceans Day is on Saturday, June 8, 2019. Heal the Bay shares a roundup of fun ocean-inspired events in the Los Angeles area that you won’t want to miss!

On World Oceans Day people around the globe come together to honor our oceans, which cover over 70% of Earth’s surface and sustain one million species of animals.

Looking for things to do around L.A. to immerse yourself in the marine world? From the worlds of science, art, film, and fashion, here are six World Oceans Day events nearby that you should consider adding to your social calendar.

Atlas Obscura: Aquatic Gender Fluidity
Fri. June 7, 7pm-9pm @ Heal the Bay Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier

This unique Heal the Bay Aquarium event was created specifically for Pride Month🌈! Enjoy cocktails, listen to speakers from the LGBTQ+ community, and learn how many marine species in our oceans change sex, gender roles, and use forms of asexuality to survive. Laura Rink, Associate Aquarium Director at Heal the Bay Aquarium will discuss the gender diversity of our local marine inhabitants followed by a presentation from transgender speaker and educator, Michelle Dennis, who joins us on behalf of PFLAG.

RSVP


Recycled Plastic Lifeguard Tower Inauguration
Sat. June 8, 9am-Noon @ Manhattan Beach

See how plastic waste can be transformed into usable products. Get your coffee to-go Saturday morning (in a reusable cup!) and come down to Manhattan Beach pier on the sand at Bruce’s Beach (26th Street). Watch how the ByFusion team diverts 1,420 pounds of plastics and recycled surfboard foam waste into a functional Lifeguard Tower. The tower will be on display until sunset on #WorldOceansDay.

RSVP


“Reef Paintings” Exhibition
June 1-16 @ Silverlake

Dulce Stein and The Neutra Museum are proud to present ‘Reef Paintings, Cataloguing Nature’s Fingerprint’ by Michael Torquato deNicola in honor of World Oceans Day. The art exhibit covers the artist’s surfing adventures in Chile, Sumatra, Nicaragua, Maui, and California alongside his first-hand observations of the environmental impacts on reefs from plastics, polluted run-off, and development.

MORE INFO


“The Smog of the Sea” Film Screening
Sat. June 8, 12:30pm-5pm @ Heal the Bay Aquarium

Explore oceans of inspiration at the Aquarium with marine-themed games, activities, scavenger hunts, and crafts. “The Smog of the Sea” a 30-minute film by musician Jack Johnson about single-use plastic in our once pristine oceans will also be screened throughout the day.

MORE INFO


The MY HERO Project Short Films Screening
Sun. June 9, 2pm-4pm @ Santa Monica

Enjoy a free short film screening of uplifting short films that honor World Ocean’s Day and Peace and Social Justice, hosted by filmmaker and social justice activist, Trey Carlisle, and MY HERO International Film Festival Director, Wendy Milette. The event takes place in Moss Theater at New Roads School.

MORE INFO & RSVP


Fred Segal Malibu Trunk Show
June 6-9, 10am-9pm @ Malibu

Join our fashionista friends at Fred Segal Malibu for a trunk show celebrating World Ocean Day with their fully sustainable vintage collection; both luxury vintage as well as the Morphew Collection, which is made from one-of-a-kind vintage materials. In addition to donating proceeds to Heal the Bay, the Fred Segal team are also hosting a beach cleanup in the ‘Bu to give back.

RSVP


How else can you get involved?

 🐟 Become a Heal the Bay Sustaining Member for $9 a month.

 🐟 Pre-order your Heal the Bay x K-Swiss limited edition sneakers made from recycled and eco-friendly materials.

 🐟 Stay informed about beach water quality and practice safe swimming in freshwater, too.

 🐟 Sign our Plastic Petition to advocate for new statewide policies in California that drastically reduce single-use product and packaging waste.

 



Photo by Dan Do-Linh

And just like that another Heal the Bay Gala has come and gone.

Yesterday, Heal the Bay welcomed over 1,000 guests to the ultimate beach party. Our annual Bring Back the Beach Gala recognizes the fearless leaders who have helped make real progress toward a healthier natural environment in L.A, and celebrates the victories Heal the Bay has achieved. This year, we honored the eco-accomplishments of Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, and the lasting legacy and support of KROQ.

View Gala Photo Gallery

The event started with guests arriving in their white beach-chic attire and walking the signature blue carpet. A mobile tank from Heal the Bay Aquarium offered a deeper look at some local marine animals and wildlife. After a sweet cocktail party, thrilling live auction, and scrumptious dinner and dessert (the donuts!), we danced the night away to the incredible James Gang band, right on the sand and beneath the stars.

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Photo by Nicola Buck

K-Swiss, our event sponsor, even announced their sneaker collaboration with us! It was a wonderful night of making waves, celebrating the great work being done, and creating a sustainable water future in L.A. County.

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Our wonderful community of supporters also included Bonnie Wright, Harry Potter actor and environmentalist, Ser’Darius Blain, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle actor, Jason Lewis, Sex and the City actor and model, Victoria Konefal, Days of Our Lives actor, Andrew Walker, actor, Jackson Dollinger, Disney’s Sydney to the Max actor, and -of course- Amy Smart Oosterhouse and Sharon Lawrence, actors and our Heal the Bay Board Members. And although he could not be in attendance, our long-time friend and wavemaker, Jeff Bridges, also cheered us on with a special video message!

A final thank you to our dynamic team of Heal the Bay volunteers, staff, Board, our incredible photographers, Dan Do-Linh and Nicola Buck, our brilliant event producer Natalie McAdams of NAMEVENTS, and all of the gracious staff at the Jonathan Club.


Thanks to ALL of our Bring Back the Beach Gala 2019 Sponsors & Partners

Heal the Bay Gala 2019 Sponsors

Thank you to our official airline partner, American Airlines



River Report CardLas áreas acuáticas para nado y recreación en el condado de Los Angeles brindan oportunidades importantes para quienes disfrutan y valoran la naturaleza de nuestros ríos y arroyos. Desafortunadamente, existe poca información o notificación pública de la calidad del agua por parte del estado. Como resultado, carecemos de datos estandarizados y la información disponible para el público es mínima y difícil de interpretar.

Durante más de 30 años, Heal the se ha dedicado a hacer que las aguas costeras y cuencas hidrográficas del sur de California sean seguras, saludables y limpias.

Desde 1991, Heal de Bay ha priorizado la salud pública, informando y educando a la comunidad sobre la calidad del agua de nuestras playas a través de nuestro “Boletín Informativo de Playas” (BRC, por sus siglas en inglés).  Evaluar la calidad del agua en áreas de recreación acuática y brindar información al público en el condado de L.A. fue el siguiente gran paso de Heal the Bay. Un día de esparcimiento en las vías fluviales del condado de Los Ángeles no debería enfermar a nadie, por tal razón se estableció en el 2014 un programa de monitoreo en los sitios de recreación acuática y se desarrolló en el 2017 el programa River Report Card (RRC) o “Boletín Informativo de Ríos” para brindar al público información de fácil comprensión sobre la calidad del agua.

El RRC asigna calificaciones con los colores verde, amarillo y rojo en función a los niveles de contaminación bacteriana. Esto difiere del BRC de Heal the Bay, que asigna calificaciones a las playas con letras que van de la A a F; sin embargo, consideramos esta evaluación como un informe de calificaciones y nos referimos a los códigos de colores como calificaciones.

Desarrollamos una metodología de clasificación de verde, amarillo y rojo, así como también de sitios clasificados según los niveles de bacterias indicadoras de contaminación fecal. Verde indica buena calidad de agua con niveles de bacterias indicadoras de contaminación fecal bajo los límites permitidos por autoridades de salud. Amarillo indica que al menos uno o más exceden los límites permitidos y que puede aumentar el riesgo de adquirir enfermedades. Finalmente, el color rojo indica mayor riesgo de salud donde todos o casi todos los niveles de bacterias indicadoras de contaminación fecal superan los límites permitidos.

El “Boletín Informativo de Ríos” es el informe de calidad de agua más completo hasta la fecha en áreas de recreación acuática del área de Los Angeles. El conjunto de datos es recopilado por Heal the Bay, Programa de Monitoreo de la Cuenca del Río Los Angeles (LARWMP, por sus siglas en inglés), Oficina de Sanidad y Medio Ambiente (LASAN, por sus siglas en inglés) de la Ciudad de L.A. y Programa de Monitoreo Regional del Río San Gabriel (SGRRMP, por sus siglas en inglés). Los datos analizados fueron monitoreados durante la temporada seca 2017 y 2018 y cubre 27 sitios en su totalidad en tres cuencas hidrogróficas que son utilizadas para nado, pesca y kayak. Datos previos a estos años también están disponibles desde 2014, pero solo para determinados sitios. Se realizaron pruebas para detectar bacterias indicadoras de contaminación fecal que indican la presencia de microorganismos y virus que causan infecciones, irritación de la piel, enfermedades respiratorias y enfermedades gastrointestinales.

En todos los 27 sitios del año 2018, el 57% de las calificaciones fué de color verde, el 25% amarilla y el 18% roja. Las áreas urbanas tienden a tener calificaciones más bajas que las áreas naturales. Los sitios en las zonas de recreación de la cuenca del río de Los Angeles están rodeados principalmente de paisajes urbanos y tuvieron calificaciones más bajas que los otros sitios en este informe. Los sitios en las zonas de recreación del río de Los Angeles obtuvo 38% verde, 36% amarillo y 26% rojo. Los sitios de la cuenca del río San Gabriel y los sitios de la parte alta de la cuenca del río de Los Angeles obtuvieron las mejores calificaciones en general, probablemente porque se encuentran en paisajes naturales y no recibieron aguas de descargas urbanas que contienen contaminantes. Los sitios en la cuenca del río San Gabriel, que se encuentran en áreas naturales, obtuvieron 84% verde, 11% amarillo y 5% rojo para el 2018; los sitios de la parte alta de la cuenca del río de Los Angeles obtuvieron 70% verde, 13% amarillo y 17% rojo.

Los sitios de la cuenca de Malibu Creek se encuentran en un parque estatal y sus alrededores son en su mayoría áreas naturales, con algunos desarrollos urbanos en la parte alta de la cuenca. Estos sitios obtuvieron mejores calificaciones que los sitios en las zonas de recreación de la cuenca del río de Los Angeles, pero obtuvieron calificaciones más bajas que los sitios de la cuenca del río San Gabriel o de la parte alta de la cuenca del río de Los Angeles. Los sitios de la cuenca de Malibu Creek obtuvieron 50% verde, 39% amarillo y 11% rojo en el 2018.

Figura 1: Porcentajes de calificación de calidad de agua 2017 y 2018 para los sitios de monitoreo en el condado de Los Ángeles:  Cuenca de Malibu Creek, zonas de recreación de la cuenca del río Los Angeles, parate alta de la cuenca del río Los Angeles y cuenca del río San Gabriel. Los colores verde, amarillo y rojo son mostrados para cada área y temporada.

Los dos sitios con porcentajes más altos en color rojo para el 2018 correspondieron a Hansen Dam (80%) en la parte alta del río de Los Angeles y Rattlesnake Park (58%) en la zona de recreación Elysian Valley del río de Los Angeles. Sin embargo, seis sitios obtuvieron 100% color verde; cuatro de estos sitios están en la cuenca del río San Gabriel y dos en la parte alta de la cuenca del río Los Angeles. En comparación con el año 2017, las calificaciones del 2018 en general, mejoraron para la cuenca de Malibu Creek,  cuenca del Río San Gabriel y para las zonas de recreación de la Cuenca del Río de Los Angeles (el porcentaje para las calificaciones con color verde aumentó)

Al examinar los sitios individualmente, 15 de los 27 sitios obtuvieron un mayor porcentaje de calificación con color verde para el 2018 en comparación con 2017, 9 sitios obtuvieron un menor porcentaje de color verde y 3 no tuvieron cambios. En todo el condado, la proporción de calificación en rojo emitidos del 2017 a 2018 disminuyó en un 1%, y el porcentaje de calificaciones verde disminuyó en un 2%. Por lo tanto, a pesar de los aumentos observados en la calidad del agua, las disminuciones superaron ligeramente a los mismos.

Desde que Heal the Bay comenzó a monitorear los sitios acuáticos de recreación y hacer público los datos de calidad del agua, los cambios han sido positivos e incluyen:

  • Aumento del monitoreo bacteriano en zonas de recreación del Río de Los Angeles, tanto en sitios como frecuencias, realizados por LASAN.
  • Mayor notificación pública por medio de letreros acerca de la calidad del agua a lo largo de las zonas de recreación del Río de Los Angeles, realizados por LASAN.
  • Mayor difusión pública e información sobre la calidad del agua a través de correos electrónicos, sitios web y otros medios en línea por parte de las agencias que recopilan la información (LARWMP, LASAN y SGRRMP).

Basados en este informe, recomendaciones adicionales para proteger la salud pública incluyen:

  • Notificación y monitoreo estandarizado en todo el estado y región para áreas acuáticas de recreación; designando responsables para el monitoreo y notificación, y recomendar una legislación o algo similar a la Ley de Calidad del Agua de las Playas (AB411) que proporcione financiamiento y monitoreos estandarizados a los condados que realicen la labor.
  • El monitoreo debe incluir los Enterococcus, así como también E. coli para proteger la salud pública y debe incluir la media geométrica en los avisos de calidad del agua.
  • La notificación pública debe incluir la publicación de carteles sobre la calidad del agua en todos los sitios de recreación acuática, en inglés y español.

Personas dirigiendose a áreas de recreación acuática  pueden consultar el Boletín Informativo de Playas de Heal the Bay www.healthebay.org/riverreportcard Es recommendable ducharse con agua y jabón después de cualquier contacto directo con el agua para poder minimizar cualquier riesgo de salud.

 



A day spent enjoying the waterways of L.A. County should not make anyone sick.

Heal the Bay today released the annual River Report Card, which assigns water quality color-grades of Red, Yellow, or Green for 27 freshwater sites in Los Angeles County. Grades are based on levels of bacteria monitored in 2018 and prior years.

Our staff scientists put a ton of work into this comprehensive study of bacterial pollution in our local waterways. We encourage you to soak up all the stats and charts we’ve assembled in the report, so we are all better informed about water quality in our region.

The River Report Card is the most comprehensive water quality report to date on bacterial pollution in popular freshwater recreation areas within the Los Angeles River Watershed, the Malibu Creek Watershed, and the San Gabriel River Watershed. These valued public places are often used for swimming, wading, fishing, kayaking, and other activities, especially during summer months when communities seek relief from hot SoCal days.

Here are some of the major findings:

  • The good news is that over half of all the water quality samples taken at freshwater sites in 2018 received Green grades – so bacterial levels were not a cause for concern at the time of the sampling.
  • However, there is a significant risk of getting sick from freshwater contact in Los Angeles County during dry weather. In 2018, 43% of water quality samples monitored by Heal the Bay came back as Yellow or Red, signaling a moderate to high public health risk.
  • The River Report Card features a Top 10 Freshwater Fails list. Taking the top spot with the worst grades overall was Hansen Dam, located in the Upper L.A. River Watershed, which had the highest public health risk (this site received Red grades in 80% of water samples taken!). Just last week, it was reported that over twenty lifeguards in L.A. developed rashes after swimming at Hansen Dam. See the full list of Freshwater Fails on page 10.
  • The River Report Card also includes a Top 10 Honor Roll list of the freshwater sites with the best grades overall. Six locations earned perfect Green scores in every sampling, including four sites in the San Gabriel River Watershed and two sites in the Upper L.A. River Watershed. Heal the Bay recommends that the public head to Hermit Falls and the East Fork San Gabriel River areas for freshwater swimming, based on the 2018 water quality analysis. Water quality conditions are subject to change so it’s best to check the latest available data when choosing a swimming hole. View the entire Honor Roll list on page 11.
  • Freshwater sites in more natural areas tended to earn better grades than freshwater sites near development. Read the report’s conclusions on page 22.
  • Better State and regional oversight and funding are needed for monitoring and public notice of water quality in freshwater recreation sites. (Our full recommendations starting on page 25) Monitoring protocols and public notification in L.A. County are not standardized, and government agencies only test for E. coli. Testing should also include the fecal indicator bacteria Enterococcus. Solely monitoring for E. coli might be putting the public at unnecessary risk. More on page 23.
  • The River Report Card includes storm drain monitoring. See which eight storm drains in the L.A. River Elysian Valley Recreation Zone need to be prioritized for runoff remediation on page 29.

Download Report in English

Read Executive Summary in Spanish

Download Press Release

Donate to Heal the Bay

Tips for enjoying and staying safe in L.A.’s rivers, streams, and creeks

Before heading to a freshwater recreation area in L.A. County check out Heal the Bay’s River Report Card at healthebay.org/riverreportcard (New data coming on Memorial Day). If water quality is poor (Yellow or Red), consider choosing a site that has good water quality.

People can also minimize their risk by limiting water contact, avoiding submerging their heads underwater, avoiding hand-to-face water contact, and washing off after contact using soap and clean water. For all water recreation, users should avoid entering the water with an open wound, if immunocompromised, or after a rainfall. Always heed official regulatory signs posted by the City or County. Swimming is always prohibited in the L.A. River main channel.


About the River Report Card

We believe the public has a right to know about the conditions of our local waterbodies, and to make informed decisions about how they want to experience them. That’s why Heal the Bay developed the River Report Card — the most comprehensive water quality report to date on freshwater recreation areas in the greater Los Angeles area.

Heal the Bay began monitoring freshwater recreation sites in 2014 and developed the River Report Card program in 2017 to provide easy-to-use water quality information to the public. Water quality grades are based on the levels of fecal indicator bacteria (E. coli and Enterococcus) and are displayed as Red, Yellow, or Green. Green means there is a low risk of illness when there is contact with the water. Yellow indicates a moderate risk, while Red signals a high risk.

Since Heal the Bay started monitoring freshwater recreation sites and making water quality data public, some positive changes have included increased bacterial monitoring and public notification signage in L.A. River recreation zones as well as increased dissemination of water quality information to the public through emails, websites, and other online means by government agencies collecting water quality information. Our annual River Report Card 2018 includes additional recommendations for water quality monitoring and public notification protocols to be the most protective of public health.

Heal the Bay also manages the Beach Report Card, available at beachreportcard.org, which provides A-to-F letter-grades for water quality at hundreds of beaches on the West Coast.

Interested in learning more? Contact our team!



Heal the Bay Gala

Los Angeles leaders Sheila Kuehl and KROQ to be feted on the sand in Santa Monica

We’re excited to announce our honorees for the Bring Back the Beach Annual Awards Gala 2019 on the evening of Thursday, May 23 at the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica, California. Now in its second decade, Heal the Bay’s Gala has grown into L.A.’s ultimate beach party. Reflecting the eclectic nature of Southern California’s devoted ocean lovers, Heal the Bay will salute the eco-accomplishments of Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and “The World Famous KROQ”.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl has a long history of collaboration with Heal the Bay, starting with her days as a California State Senator. Under her fearless leadership in public office, she has made the L.A. region more environmentally healthy and sustainable. She protected the long-term health of the local coastline by co-authoring legislation that created the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission in 2002. Last year, she championed Measure W, a ballot measure that will generate $330 million annually to fund projects that capture stormwater, treat runoff and replenish our local water supply. Measure W passed with a huge 69% majority. This crucial progress toward sustainable water would not have been possible without the leadership and vision of Supervisor Kuehl.

KROQ has given a steady stream of support to Heal the Bay over nearly three decades. As the region’s leading alternative rock music purveyor, KROQ has connected millions of music listeners and concert-goers to the shoreline, to their watershed and to each other. Driven by an unrivaled dedication to the Los Angeles community and culture, KROQ has contributed $1,000,000 to Heal the Bay’s local science-based programs since 1992. Proceeds generated from KROQ Weenie Roast and benefit concerts fund Heal the Bay’s work surrounding plastic pollution, climate change, contaminated seafood and beach safety.

The Gala will welcome 1,000 guests to celebrate on the sand, and under the stars, in support of thriving oceans and healthy watersheds. The event consistently sells out and brings together a lively group of artists, entertainment figures, local government officials and business leaders. At last year’s Gala, Bring Back the Beach partygoers celebrated Mayor Eric Garcetti, Gabriela Teissier, Zooey Deschanel and Jacob Pechenik.

This year’s attendees include American Airlines – the official airline of Heal the Bay. The organization is leading the way in their commitment to environmental sustainability.

Group tables and individual tickets are available at www.healthebay.org/bbb.

View Tickets


Download our 2019 Sponsorship Kit, learn more about the event, check out the recap from last year’s Gala, and view more photos from 2018 and 2017.



An aerial view of Kids Ocean Day 2011

Thousands of kids are coming together on May 23 for the 26th annual Kids Ocean Day! Sparking a love for nature in young kids sets them up for a lifetime of appreciation and respect for our oceans, watersheds and natural environment. Plus, they love digging their toes in the sand! At this event, kids will learn about marine animals, the importance of keeping our beaches clean, and what they can do to help.

To wrap up the day’s activities, the kids gather together in formation to create a powerful environmental message on the beach. Far above their heads, helicopters fly by to capture a photo. The result is a spectacular and meaningful image that our team at Heal the Bay looks forward to every year.

Kids Ocean Day 2019 Event Details

Date: Thursday, May 23
Time: 7:00am – 2:30pm
Location: Dockweiler State Beach, Vista Del Mar, Imperial Hwy Entrance, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293 (The end of Imperial Highway between Playa del Rey & Manhattan Beach)

Visit Kids Ocean Day Website


Kids Ocean Day Founder, Michael Klubock, on the importance of youth outreach, hands-on education, and how Kids Ocean Day makes an impact:

“Kids Ocean Day teaches school kids about how litter flows from our neighborhoods to the ocean, where it harms marine life and pollutes our natural resources. It’s where the lessons come to life. By bringing Los Angeles school children to the beach, we put them in touch with nature, while instilling good habits and stewardship that can last a lifetime. The wonder and beauty of the coast, combined with a mission to protect the natural world, is a profound experience. I see it on their faces every year and every year it moves me.

Kids Ocean Day is a way to show kids that their actions—both good and bad—have an impact. That’s a lesson worth learning at any age. Eighty percent of the pollution in the sea comes from the land as the result of runoff. We can all do something about that. Simple things like disposing of litter, picking up after your dog or joining a beach cleanup can make a huge difference.”

An aerial view of Kids Ocean Day 2014