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Heal the Bay Blog

This is a developing story and we will update information as new details come to light.

UPDATE: 10:25 am Pacific Time on August 4, 2021.

The City of Los Angeles Sanitation & Environment (LASAN) launched a new webpage that addresses sewage discharge at the Hyperion Plant in El Segundo. It briefly covers the cause of the catastrophic incident and the recovery effort underway. 

We want you to be aware of the data table (with multiple tabs) at the bottom of the page. It shows the pollutant levels in the effluent (via sampling results of what Hyperion is discharging from the 5-mile outfall), equipment status, odor monitoring results, offshore monitoring results for bacteria, and links to other data, which don’t appear to be working or filled in yet. “Effluent” is the treated wastewater that Hyperion releases to the ocean. In other words, influent is what comes into the plant (raw sewage and other debris), and effluent is what goes out of the plant (typically treated wastewater that has to meet certain standards).

VIEW LASAN’S HYPERION 2021 RECOVERY PAGE

We will be reviewing the data closely and providing a deeper analysis for you. But, our first impressions are that exceedances (aka violations) are occurring for multiple parameters in the effluent since July 11-12, indicating that LASAN is violating their permit by continuing to discharge inadequately treated sewage into the Bay, and is still not able to fully treat sewage. What is even more concerning is that the levels of certain pollutants appear to be increasing over the last couple of weeks (the weekly average numbers are getting larger). These high levels of total suspended solids (TSS), biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), settleable solids, turbidity, and oil & grease may have long-term negative impacts on marine life and ecosystems. 

Our team will provide more information about the pollutants and what the potential impacts could be for the Santa Monica Bay later this week.

Despite this alarming data, recent beach water quality tests have indicated the water in the Santa Monica Bay is safe for human recreation. All beach advisories, except for Avalon Beach on Catalina Island, have been lifted because water samples have not exceeded State water quality standards. This is good news for beachgoers, but we recommend that you always check the latest beach conditions at the LA County Department of Public Health’s website and Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card.

 

UPDATE: 8:00 am Pacific Time on August 3, 2021.

LA County Department of Public Health (DPH) released an update last night that ocean water samples collected at the following locations have met State water quality standards and beach advisories have been lifted:

  • Dockweiler State Beach
    • Ballona Creek (Near Dockweiler Tower 40)
    • Culver Blvd storm drain
    • Imperial Highway storm drain
    • Westchester storm drain
  • Pico-Kenter storm drain (Santa Monica Beach)
  • Topanga Canyon Lagoon (Topanga Canyon Beach in Malibu)

A warning is still in place for Avalon Beach at Catalina Island (50 feet east of the pier). The Department of Public Health continues cautioning all to be careful of swimming, surfing, and playing in this area.

Thanks for staying updated.

 

UPDATE: 11:46 am Pacific Time on July 30, 2021.

We are shocked that LA Sanitation & Environment (LASAN) has continued to release inadequately treated sewage into the Bay. It’s been over two weeks since the 17 million gallon sewage spill, and we are now learning that the Hyperion plant is not able to fully treat sewage.

The discharge contains bacteria and viruses as well as organic matter that causes low oxygen levels in ocean waters – the impacts on human health and marine life can be significant and very damaging. LASAN should have notified the public and stakeholders who have been tracking the spill results closely for the last two weeks. We don’t know if LASAN has increased monitoring to assess the impacts of the partially treated discharge – that needed to start immediately – and going forward we need transparency in order to ensure appropriate actions are taking place to assess impacts, protect people and wildlife, and pursue fines and mitigation measures to the maximum extent.

Heal the Bay was founded in the 1980s by local activists who refused to accept partially treated sewage being dumped into the Bay by Hyperion. It’s now 30 plus years later – great progress has been made, but without watchdogs we’re at risk of repeating past mistakes.

The LA Regional Water Quality Control Board has taken immediate action to boost monitoring in the Santa Monica Bay.

Last night we received a notice from the LA Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) issuing an order to the City of Los Angeles LA Sanitation and Environment (LASAN) Hyperion Treatment Plant to provide monitoring and reporting related to the discharge of sewage on July 11 and 12.

The order details how the flooding at the plant led to non-operational equipment resulting in reduced efficiency of treatment and a reduction in the quality of the discharge from the 5 mile outfall. The order documents that since the initial incident, Hyperion has violated its discharge permit by releasing effluent that is in exceedance of limits for parameters including total suspended solids (TSS), biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), turbidity, and settleable solids.

These exceedances will result in fines – however, they could have negative impacts on human health and the marine environment. We are glad to see that the Regional Board is requiring daily offshore monitoring and submission of daily monitoring and status reports. The offshore monitoring appears to include four stations, each to be tested at three depths (<1m, 15 meters, and at the outfall depth). Testing at these locations must be done for 12 parameters, including bacteria levels, which are indicative of impacts to human health.

The latest advisory from the LA County Department of Public Health (DPH) states that they are continuing to test shoreline bacteria levels daily. Heal the Bay scientists and experts will be reviewing the locations and frequency of testing today by DPH and LASAN to ensure that the frequency and spatial coverage is protective of public health. And we will continue to ask for rapid methods to be used for detection of bacterial pollution – the methods being used now take 18-24 hours to obtain results and then additional time for that information to get to the public. Rapid methods would allow for more real-time results to be available to the public. 

The LA County Board of Supervisors and LA City Council members have initiated a full investigation into the 17 million gallon spill and continued discharges from Hyperion.

In addition to the Water Board’s actions outlined above, the LA County Board of Supervisors has requested a full investigation within 30 days (scroll down to our last update on 7/29 for more info). And the LA City Council is demanding a detailed report and action plan too, which includes instructing LASAN to “look for engineering opportunities during repairs to begin transforming the facility to recycle 100% of wastewater as part of the city’s Operation NEXT,” according to the Daily Breeze.

Is it safe to swim in the Bay today?

If you are deciding whether or not you should go into the water at LA’s beaches this weekend, we want to be clear: there are potential health risks at some locations.

Water quality tests from sites across the Bay have indicated high bacteria levels around El Segundo, Dockweiler, and Venice beach areas. These beach areas are under an advisory and should be avoided until tests indicate the water quality is good.

If you are heading to other areas in the Bay, we recommend that you check the latest beach conditions at the LA County Department of Public Health’s website and Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card (so you can avoid beach areas impacted by bacterial-pollution issues). Conditions can change rapidly, so pay attention to beach postings and remember there is a 24-hour lag between water testing and posted warnings.

Message us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or contact us online if you need any help getting started with our Beach Report Card website or app — or if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out and we’ll do our best to get you an answer.

UPDATE: 11:00 am Pacific Time on July 29, 2021.

One week after the massive raw sewage spill in the Santa Monica Bay from the Hyperion Plant in El Segundo, the LA County Board of Supervisors met and heard an update on what went wrong, particularly related to notification protocols, and what next steps are needed. Heal the Bay staff called in to the hearing to speak on the item, but we were not able to because they cut off public comment after 1 hour for all items on the agenda. We were glad to hear at least three people speak passionately on the issue. We did send in a letter, supporting the motion as well as offering additional recommendations. You can read our letter and other public correspondence on the item here: http://file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/bos/supdocs/160317.pdf

The agenda item was heard around 3:15pm and included a brief presentation on the expedited report from CityGate that Supervisor Hahn requested right after the massive release of raw sewage. The findings of the report are quite disturbing and highlight multiple failures in communication and notification, primarily by the LA County Department of Public Health (DPH).

Next, Supervisor Hahn asked a series of questions of Dr. Barbara Ferrer (Director, LA County Dept Public Health), Gary Jones (Director, LA County Dept of Beaches & Harbors), and Fernando Boiteux, (Chief, LA County Lifeguard Division). Dr. Ferrer started by apologizing to the Board and the public; she took full responsibility for the failures and stated that DPH has already made fixes and will continue to improve training, processes, and protocols. Dr. Ferrer said that what happened was unacceptable and that it will never happen again. We appreciated hearing this apology and DPH taking responsibility for their actions (or lack of actions) and the commitment to do better.

Supervisor Hahn asked Dr. Ferrer about ensuring that public health – both in the water and in the community – continue to be protected as the Hyperion plant recovers from the major failure and undergoes construction to get back fully online. El Segundo neighborhoods are bearing the brunt of unbearable odors and LASAN is offering vouchers for air conditioners and hotel rooms for those affected. Dr. Ferrer assured Supervisor Hahn that water quality would continue to be tested and that the DPH team would be conducting door-to-door outreach in the community to ensure that affected residents know how to contact them, report odors, and get access to resources.

Gary Jones from Beaches & Harbors and Fernando Boiteux from County Lifeguards also answered questions about when they received notice of the sewage discharge, what could be improved in communications, and how beach closures should ideally proceed.

The motion was passed, which will result in a more in-depth After Action Report to be produced in 30 days. This follow-up report will detail what happened, where the failures occurred, and recommendations for fixing failures and ensuring this never happens again.

Heal the Bay greatly appreciated the updates and the transparency and accountability that the report and hearing provided. We will be actively following this issue and are engaging with Supervisor Hahn’s office and agencies to offer our recommendations and participate in the process. We will continue to hold agencies accountable and ensure that there are appropriate repercussions for the multiple failures that occurred.

 

UPDATE: 6:00 pm Pacific Time on July 23, 2021.

A report was released this week, and made public today, about the recent 17-million gallon sewage spill from the Hyperion plant in El Segundo. “The handling of this release and the necessary public notification were failures, the initial report concluded.

The LA County Board of Supervisors will be hearing this expedited report on Tuesday, July 27 starting at 9:30 am. The Board will be voting on a motion to get this update as well as to request a more detailed “After Action” report within 30 days. Heal the Bay will be supporting this motion by sending in a letter and calling in to give oral testimony at the hearing. We will be suggesting additional recommendations, such as implementing rapid testing methods for water quality and tracking the plume through satellite imagery and other methods.

Take action!

Watch the hearing, send in an email or a letter, and try to call in to the hearing to speak (this can be challenging to do as speaking time is limited).

TUNE IN ON JULY 27:
Agenda and info on how to watch and give comment (on the first page): https://bos.lacounty.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=AezaZ2KttC4%3d&portalid=1 (agenda item #36)

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD IN ADVANCE:
To send an email or a letter in advance of the hearing (select item 36): https://publiccomment.bos.lacounty.gov/

We appreciate Supervisor Hahn’s leadership on this and hope to work collaboratively with County and City agencies to ensure this never happens again. And, if it does, that the public is notified immediately and effectively.

UPDATE: 9:10 pm Pacific Time on July 14, 2021.

This evening the LA County Department of Public Health lifted beach closures at Dockweiler State Beach and El Segundo Beach because water samples taken over the past two days have not shown dangerous levels of fecal-indicator bacteria. Based on these results, it appears safe at most locations in the Santa Monica Bay, but we urge you to exercise caution by regularly checking the LA County Department of Public Health website for water conditions and beach closures at PublicHealth.LACounty.gov/Beach and Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card.

There are four sites in the Santa Monica Bay that currently do exceed State standards and coming into contact with water at these locations could cause illness – it is unclear if these exceedances are due to the sewage spill, recent rainfall, or something else:

  • Topanga County Beach at the Topanga Canyon Lagoon
  • Will Rogers State Beach at the Santa Monica Canyon storm drain
  • Santa Monica State Beach at the Santa Monica Pier
  • Manhattan County Beach at the 28th Street storm drain

Heal the Bay won’t let up on pushing for improvements that prevent sewage spills, advance water quality testing methods, and ensure public notifications happen swiftly and equitably. Thanks to everyone in the community for reaching out, voicing concerns, asking questions, staying informed, and most importantly protecting each other by sharing critical updates. This community is strong. It is amazing to see us spring into action. Thank you.

More to come on next steps, so you can take action to hold polluters accountable and to prevent this from happening again.

 

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UPDATE: 7:15 pm Pacific Time on July 13, 2021.

We have some preliminary good news to share — but don’t rush back to the water quite yet.

Water samples taken on Monday, July 12 by LA City Bureau of Sanitation & the Environment (LASAN) and LA County Department of Public Health (DPH) do not show high levels of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB). FIB, in significant quantities, indicate the presence of harmful pathogens in the water. Samples were taken at numerous locations at the shoreline and offshore, at various depths.

While this is good news, the beaches are still closed and will remain closed until two consecutive days of sampling show safe water quality. So, samples were taken again today and if they show low levels of bacteria, closures will be lifted tomorrow.

These results are very preliminary since the samples were taken Monday morning and early afternoon. Tides, currents and wind continue to move water around and we don’t know where the contamination may have ended up.

We also don’t know what the water quality was before the samples were collected – i.e. on Sunday evening and early Monday morning. It is possible that bacteria levels were higher then, and that people who got in the water were unknowingly exposed to poor water quality.

We appreciate that LASAN and DPH have been forthcoming with us on the results, but we feel strongly that this information should be spread widely to the general public, as early as possible. LA County DPH is responsible for notifying the public of dangerous levels of contamination. Given the significant amount of raw sewage released, nearby beaches should have been closed immediately. Delaying public notification by 12-24 hours is not acceptable.

We have heard from many concerned folx that they were at the beaches on Sunday evening and Monday all day without any knowledge of the spill, or any ability to take precautions. We will be working with City and County agencies to establish protocols that better protect public health. We also urge LASAN and DPH to use rapid methods to detect contamination more quickly. DNA-based lab methods like PCR are readily available and provide reliable results in minutes or hours, rather than the 24-hour process required for traditional bacterial monitoring. Using methods like these, in addition to traditional methods, as long as they are accompanied with good public notification, would help get critical information to our many ocean users much more quickly and could prevent significant harm to LA residents and visitors.

You can check the status of beach closures and conditions on LA County’s recorded information hotline, available 24 hours a day, at 1-800-525-5662. Information about beach closures and conditions is also available online at: PublicHealth.LACounty.gov/Beach

We will continue to track this issue and keep you informed.

 

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UPDATE: 3:20 pm Pacific Time on July 12, 2021.

When did the spill occur?
The sewage spill started at 7 pm on 7/11/2021 and stopped at about 5 am on 7/12/2021. We are told by City of LA’s Bureau of Sanitation that the spill was stopped early this morning at around 5 am and all sewage is now being treated normally.

How much was spilled?
We understand 17 million gallons of raw sewage were spilled through the 1-mile outfall, which is directly offshore from the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in El Segundo.

Which beaches are impacted?
Currently Dockweiler State Beach and El Segundo Beach are closed to the public. The City of Los Angeles and LA County Department of Public Health are testing beaches and water in the Santa Monica Bay. More information can be found at the LA County Department of Public Health’s website.

What should the public do to protect themselves?
We recommend the public stay out of the water in the Santa Monica Bay until further notice. Also, check the Beach Report Card for the latest ocean water quality alerts in California, and review the River Report Card for water quality information about freshwater swimming holes in Los Angeles County.

What issues does this cause to people and to ocean wildlife?
Bacteria and viruses in raw sewage are extremely dangerous to people and can carry a variety of diseases. Debris such as tampons and plastic trash, when released into the Bay, can harbor bacteria and can cause entanglement of wildlife, but it seems in this case those debris were successfully filtered out of the spill before it made it to the Bay.

Why did this happen?
We understand the inflow to the Hyperion plant in El Segundo was severely clogged and flooded the facility. The sewage left the facility untreated through the 1-mile pipe and outfall.

What is the source and how can we hold them accountable for pollution?
This is fully the responsibility of the City of LA and their Bureau of Sanitation. The City normally does a very good job of containing and fully treating hundreds of millions of gallons of sewage every day – but when spills happen the City must move quickly to warn the public, and must discover and fix the cause to prevent future spills.

How can sewage spills be prevented?
Proper maintenance as well as people not flushing trash items such as plastic trash into the system are the best preventative measures.

How often do sewage spills occur?
The last major sewage spill in Los Angeles County was in 2015. However, smaller sewage spills are not an uncommon occurrence. In 2020 to 2021, seventy-five sewage spills sent a total of 346,888 gallons into rivers, lakes, and streams within Los Angeles County. One 222,542 gallon spill in February 2021 closed all the beaches in Long Beach; this area is monitored by Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card. A total of 39,621 gallons of sewage were spilled into the Los Angeles River, and 140 gallons were spilled into Las Virgenes Creek; both waterways are monitored by Heal the Bay’s River Report Card.

For more information about sewage spills, visit LA County Department of Public Health’s website.

 

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Watch our IG Live below where we answer your questions with our CEO Shelley Luce and Communications Director Talia Walsh.

 

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The Los Angeles Regional Board has neglected their mission – to protect and enhance our water resources – by making polluting easier for dischargers rather than requiring action. The job of holding polluters accountable will once again fall on us. 

The discharge of polluted stormwater in Los Angeles is regulated by the LA Regional Water Quality Control Board through the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit. The Regional Board had an opportunity this month to improve the MS4 Permit during its decadal update, but in a disappointing decision the Board instead greenlit the continued degradation of waterbodies in our communities by adopting a MS4 Permit with the same loopholes as the ineffective 2012 Permit. This decision continues a pattern of insufficient accountability for stormwater dischargers and will only further delay progress, resulting in stagnant or even declining surface water quality. 

Permittees asked for a weaker permit with fewer requirements and a longer timeframe

The four-day hearing (see our twitter updates) began with testimony from public officials who once again lamented their limited access to competitive funding sources for stormwater projects. Elected officials represent cities, which are permittees under the MS4 Permit. They are not community voices – they are the voice of the dischargers asking for a weaker permit with fewer requirements and a longer timeframe. 

We understand that completing projects is difficult, particularly for cities with smaller budgets. However, the MS4 Permit has been around for 30 years, and we have yet to see a significant reduction in stormwater pollution. We cannot afford to wait another 30 years before we start to see improvements. Luckily, there are funding opportunities available right now through localstate, and even federal programs. Additional resources include opportunities for collaboration between the cities, supplemental work from non-profits and community groups looking to build projects in their neighborhoods, support from Regional Board staff, and information from LA County’s WHAM Taskforce and Watershed Coordinators who are all assigned to identify and leverage funding sources.  

Most importantly, the benefits of compliance far outweigh the costs. Achieving clean water is not just a respectable goal, but a federally mandated law to protect communities and ecosystems from polluted water. Unfortunately, water quality has stagnated, even gotten worse in some areas, as our City and County governments have fallen behind schedule. Yet, there are no penalties for their inaction. 

Members of the public asked for clean water, better regulation, and more transparency

The Board also heard from dozens of community members asking for clean water, better regulation of stormwater pollution, and more transparency in the regulatory process. We heard from Eva Pagaling, whose tribes (Samala Chumash and Yakama) have historically gathered materials, medicines, and food in the Santa Clara River watershed and coastline. Eva reminded us that these tribes shoulder the burden of MS4 pollution, and urged the Regional Board to hold accountable those responsible for polluted discharges. We heard from Itzel Flores Castillo Wang, a community member and organizer from Boyle Heights in East LA, supporting a transparent permit that holds permittees accountable to implement multi-benefit and nature-based projects where they are needed most. We heard from so many folks demanding action now, in the form of a SMMART Permit that holds polluters accountable and that allows the public to follow progress and engage in the process. 

Heal the Bay gave a presentation alongside partners at LA Waterkeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council outlining the strengths and flaws of the proposed 2021 Regional MS4 Permit. We supported the watershed approach because water flows throughout watershed boundaries; therefore, the approach to reducing pollution must be watershed-wide without stopping at city limits. The optional watershed management program within the permit framework allows for that watershed approach. However, we did not support the “deemed in compliance” language (also known as the “safe harbor”), which shields polluters from enforcement. A SMMART permit can invest in our communities through multi-benefit projects, but only if it is actionable, with enforceable deadlines so that those benefits can become a reality in our communities and not just a hope for the future. 

“The small list of projects presented by permittees are happening because there are TMDLs with deadlines and consequences built in. There is no justification for maintaining the safe harbors in this permit. Board staff has already allowed plenty of flexibility…” – Dr. Shelley Luce. 

The Water Board is supposed to preserve and enhance water quality for present and future generations; instead, they chose to excuse permittees, once again, for their lack of action. 

The Regional Board voted to allow continued degradation of our waterways

As final deliberations began on July 23, it became apparent that Board members were more concerned about the complaints of the permittees than about the demands of community members. Some Board members went even further to bow to dischargers by proposing motions to extend deadlines (which thankfully failed, but with a narrow 4-3 vote against) and completely remove numeric water quality requirements (which failed with a 5-2 vote against). Finally, the Board voted to approve a 2021 Regional MS4 Permit that includes the same safe harbors that made the 2012 MS4 Permit so ineffective, even after dozens of community members asked them directly for clean water and more accountability. 

Some improvements were made to increase transparency, including a final direction to Regional Board staff to create a single online portal for all annual reports; however, without even the possibility of enforcement by the Board, there is no accountability for polluters. 

It is up to all of us to Take LA by Storm and push for progress together

One board member claimed that “the safe harbors are an expression of trust and confidence in permittees.” But knowing the permittee’s record of inaction, we do not share that trust. By keeping the safe harbors, the Board has effectively decided not to enforce this critical permit. So now, the job of holding permittees accountable will once again fall on us, the concerned residents and nonprofit groups of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. We can take inspiration from Margaret Mead and know that, together, our actions can make a difference. 

Sign up to Take LA by Storm to receive updates as the permittees submit their semi-annual reports. We will continue to search for ways to hold polluters accountable while we track progress. If implementation continues to lag, we will demand action together. 



At Heal the Bay Aquarium, we believe that there are 52 Shark Weeks in a year, so we’re keeping all the #SharkWeek learning going. It’s important to share and teach facts, not fear, as we all work towards protecting our ocean environment and the animals that call it home. Shark conservation is a 24/7 job, so let’s continue this deep dive into learning more about these critically important, and often misunderstood, creatures.

California is known for its incredible richness and variety of ecosystems—both on land and under the sea. Venture across the Golden State and you’ll cross coastal wetlands, lush wooded forests, and the vast deserts in Death Valley. Dive below the waters off our coastline and see the fairytale-like beauty of our kelp forests, the infinite expansiveness of the sandy seafloor, and the rocky shore dynamics of our tide pools. From abalone, to sea lions, hermit crabs to Mola mola, there is a wealth of marine diversity right in our Bay.

So, who are our elasmobranch neighbors? In our local waters, there are at least 23 different kinds of sharks, and over a dozen types of rays and skates (the triangular-shaped Rajidae—not the retro kind spotted weaving down the boardwalk). Wade into our shallower waters and you may see the slim, spotted shadow of a leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata) sashay by, on the hunt for crustaceans and clams on the sandy bottom. Head out a little further with the surfers and you may even get the rare, incredible opportunity to spot our resident (albeit juvenile) landlord: the great white shark (Carcharodon Carcharias). From long-tailed thresher sharks, to the chiropteran-like bat rays, you never know what you’ll “sea” when you explore our coast. At our Aquarium, we exhibit marine species that you can find right next door in Santa Monica Bay. Learning about these local animals allows our visitors to see what our clean water mission is all about: not only protecting public health, but also protecting the thousands of different kinds of marine life that call it home—from seabirds and fish, to marine mammals and phytoplankton—all are part of the southern California ecosystem.

Let’s meet the locals in our Sharks & Rays Exhibit!

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Swell sharks (Cephaloscyllium ventriosum) are a visitor favorite because when you’re observing them in the exhibit, you’re now in the “Splash Zone”, due to the fact that they literally spit water while they swim around. They’re so aptly named because when agitated, swell sharks will hold on to their caudal fin with their teeth and swell up with water, making it more difficult for predators to bite them or pull them from their rocky den. Ever seen a Mermaid’s Purse? Swell sharks are also oviparous, which means they lay keratinous egg cases. Developing swell shark pups take about 9-12 months until they’re ready to hatch into adorable, 6 inch (15 cm) long baby sharks. Check out Baby Shark Watch to see a swell shark grow from egg to pup!

Horn sharks (Heterodontus francisci), are named for the large horns in front of each dorsal fin. These horns are used for protection against predators, making horn sharks extremely difficult to eat. Imagine trying to swallow a sandwich with the toothpicks still holding it together—you’d have a pretty hard time getting that down. These oviparous sharks also have a uniquely shaped mouth that allows them to “suck” in food and forage through sand for a tasty crab or some other buried seafloor invertebrate. The scientific name Heterodontus comes from the Greek words “heteros” and “odont”, meaning “different teeth”. Horn sharks have sharp pointy teeth in the front, and crushing molar-like teeth in the back. This is why they’re one of the few shark species that can actually eat a spiky sea urchin (sometimes staining their teeth with the urchin pigment).

Round stingrays (Urobatis halleri), lovingly known as “sea pancakes” by our visiting students, are commonly found in sandy bottom habitats, and typically hang around intertidal areas down to depths of about 15 m (50 ft). Stingrays are viviparous (live birth), and will have between 1-6 pups that are about the size of the palm of your hand (2.5-3 inches or 6-7.5 cm).

To the right, to the right…to the left, to the left…now shuffle! Ever heard of the Stingray Shuffle? It’s actually the best way to protect both yourself and unsuspecting stingrays that may be camouflaging in the sandy bottom below you when you head into the waves. If you slide or shuffle your feet in the sand as you enter and move about the ocean, rays will feel the movement from your feet, and will move somewhere else to avoid contact. If you walk in normally (especially around this time of year during stingray mating season), you may accidentally step on a ray, which will then defend itself by using the venomous barb on their tail. The venom of the round stingray is not dangerous to humans; however, it is extremely painful. If stung by a ray, the best course of action is to seek help from the nearest Lifeguard, and soak the affected area in very hot water. This actually denatures the proteins in the venom, and will hopefully help provide some relief from the sting. This is also the best treatment for sea jelly stings, since contrary to popular myth (and TV sitcoms), peeing on the jelly sting can actually make the pain worse!


During our closure throughout 2020, we were busy at work refreshing our exhibits and creating fun, new experiences for our visitors for when we could safely reopen. We o-fish-ally re-opened our indoor gallery on June 12, 2021, and visitors can now enjoy our upgraded, interactive Sharks & Rays Touch Tank Exhibit! Get up close and feel the sandpapery touch of a swell shark’s skin from their dermal denticles (“tooth-skin”), or the velvety softness of a round stingray. Gentle interactions with these animals helps to dispel long-held myths about sharks being scary, mindless, man-eaters.

Lurking. Stalking. Chasing. Attack. These are all familiar (and unfairly given) terms when we see any news about encounters between humans and sharks. Sharks have been around on this planet for at least 400 million years. They’re a keystone species, which means as apex (top) predators, sharks are critically important to a healthy ecosystem and marine food web. Just like the tumbling of a Jenga tower when we pull out a single, structural-load holding piece, the removal of sharks can decimate the delicate balance of the ocean environment. We’ve seen the same impacts on land ecosystems with the human-led removal of wolves from Yellowstone National Park. Without these apex predators keeping elk populations in check, the land suffered from erosion and deforestation—affecting more than 200 other species of animals living in that ecosystem. Sharks usually take a long time to reproduce, and most don’t have that may young at a time. Female great white sharks usually aren’t even sexually mature for at least 1-2 decades, and their young take more than a year to gestate. Sharks are already vulnerable to the impacts of pollution and climate change, and data shows that worldwide shark populations have declined by almost 99% due to the additional stress of overfishing.

So, what can we do to help protect sharks? One super easy way is to spread facts, not fear. Even though encountering sharks in the wild can still be a scary thought, sharks have no desire to eat us (honestly—do we really think we taste that good?). Sharks are actually probably much more afraid of you than you are of them, and when they encounter people, their usual reaction is to swim away, hide, or out of simple curiosity just check out this silly-looking animal scooting around the water. Being conscientious about sustainable seafood choices, and going zero-waste and plastic-free as much as possible can go a long way towards shark protections. Destructive fishing methods not only cause habitat loss, but harms millions of sharks each year as bycatch. Just looking at the Pacific Ocean alone, an estimated 3.3 million sharks are accidentally caught each year as bycatch on longlines that were targeted for other fish. Supporting bans on shark fin products and shark finning can also add protections to critically declining shark populations, because we can eliminate the market for fins by passing laws prohibiting their sale. Globally, at least 70-100 million sharks are killed each year just for the inhumane shark fin trade. Heal the Bay, along with partners and supporters, successfully led the charge to ban the sale and possession of shark fins in California in 2013. Right now, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (H.R. 737) is still waiting for a vote in the Senate. The House passed this bill in November 2019, and the bill would “prohibit the sale, purchase, and possession of shark fins in the United States”. Your voice and action can help protect what we all love. Helping to teach others about the importance of sharks is a great way to help change the way people think about sharks. For the record, we think they’re “swell”.

Learn more about shark conservation with these great organizations and researchers:


Citations:

  • https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/how-fix-jellyfish-sting-180963582/#:~:text=And%20before%20you%20ask%3A%20no,consistent%20chemical%20makeup%2C%20she%20says
  • https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/737/text



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Heal the Bay and the Beach Report Card

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

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

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

About the WSL 

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

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

 



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

¿Cuándo sucedió el vertido?

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

¿Cómo fue de grande?

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

¿Qué playas han sido afectadas?

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

¿Qué puede hacer el público para protegerse?

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

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

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

¿Por qué ha sucedido esto?

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

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

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

¿Cómo se pueden prevenir los vertidos de aguas residuales? 

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

¿Cada cuanto tiempo suceden estos vertidos de aguas residuales? 

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

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

Read in English



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

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

Highlights from the Beach Report Card

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

Even so, our scientists remain deeply concerned about ocean water quality. Polluted waters pose a significant health risk to millions of people in California. People who come in contact with water with a C grade or lower are at a greater risk of contracting illnesses such as stomach flu, ear infections, upper respiratory infections, and rashes.

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

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

 

Download Beach Report Card

Read Beach Report Card summary en Español

 

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

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

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

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

Highlights from the River Report Card

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

 

Download River Report Card

Read River Report Card summary en Español

 

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

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

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

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

Equity and Access
The COVID-19 pandemic, a record-setting wildfire season, and extreme heat during summer 2020 highlighted the dire need for equity in our waters, and exposed major systemic failures; open spaces, including beaches and rivers, are not equally accessible to all people. Low-income communities of color tend to be the most burdened communities, bearing the brunt of environmental pollution and limited access to open space.

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

Tips to stay safe at ocean and freshwater areas

  • View beachreportcard.org and healthebay.org/riverreportcard for the latest water quality information.
  • Avoid shallow, enclosed beaches and freshwater areas with poor water circulation.
  • Swim at least 100 yards away from flowing storm drains, creeks, and piers.
  • Stay out of the water for at least 72-hours after a rain event.
  • Follow all local health and safety regulations, including all local pandemic-related regulations.
  • Check in with the lifeguard or ranger on duty for more information about the best places to swim.

About Heal the Bay
Heal the Bay is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1985. We use science, education, community action, and advocacy to fulfill our mission to protect coastal waters and watersheds in Southern California. Heal the Bay Aquarium, located at the Santa Monica Pier, welcomes 100,000 guests annually and hosts a variety of public programs and events that highlight local environmental issues and solutions. Learn more at healthebay.org and follow @healthebay on social media.

About Beach Report Card
Beach Report Card with NowCast, in partnership with World Surf League, is Heal the Bay’s flagship scientific water quality monitoring program that started in the 1990s. For thirty years, the Beach Report Card has influenced the improvement of water quality by increasing monitoring efforts and helping to enact strong environmental and public health policies. Learn more at beachreportcard.org and download the free app on iPhone and Android devices.

The Beach Report Card is made possible in part through generous support from SIMA Environmental Fund, Swain Barber Foundation, SONY Pictures Entertainment, and World Surf League.

About River Report Card
Currently, there is no statewide water quality monitoring mandate for rivers and streams in California, like we have for the ocean as a result of the Beach Report Card. Heal the Bay started the River Report Card in 2017 to push for new public health protections for freshwater areas in addition to serving the immediate need for increased public awareness about the risks at popular freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County. Learn more at healthebay.org/riverreportcard.

The River Report Card is made possible in part by generous support from Alice C. Tyler Perpetual Trust and Garfield Foundation.

Media inquiries only please: Contact us


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



Resumen ejecutivo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Resumen ejecutivo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board jurisdictional boundaries.

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

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

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

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


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

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

SEND IN YOUR STATEMENT



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

The history of Juneteenth

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

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

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

The legacy of slavery on the coast

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


Honor Juneteenth

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

Black Out at Bay Street with Black Surfers Collective

Saturday, June 19, 2021
9am-Noon
Free & Outdoors at Bay Street beach
Santa Monica, California

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

Learn more


Wade in the Water: A Tiny Film Fest

Saturday, June 19, 2021
8pm-10pm
Free & Outdoors at Historic Belmar Park
Santa Monica, CA

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

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

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

Saturday, June 19, 2021
Free & Online at 10:30am-Noon
bit.ly/SMJuneteenth

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

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

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

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

Learn more


Juneteenth Heritage Event

Saturday, June 19, 2021
11am-3pm
Free & Outdoors at Calvary Baptist Church
1502 20th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90404

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

Learn more


Free Admission to Heal the Bay Aquarium in honor of Juneteenth

Saturday, June 19, 2021
12pm-4pm
Free & Indoors/Outdoors at Heal the Bay Aquarium
1600 Ocean Front Walk

Santa Monica, California

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

Learn more


Sources:

  1. https://www.history.com/news/what-is-juneteenth
  2. https://blacklivesmatter.com/make-juneteenth-a-national-holiday/
  3. https://www.diversitybestpractices.com/what-companies-are-doing-to-honor-juneteenth
  4. https://healthebay.org/equality-equity-justice/