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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: California

La primera vez que me dijeron que la piel de ciertos peces capturados cerca de Los Ángeles era tóxica para comer, me intrigó. Nunca había escuchado que la piel humana desempeñara un papel de “depósito de toxinas”, y me preguntaba qué propiedades especiales tenía la piel del pescado que le permitían albergar estas toxinas. Mi primer pensamiento fue que quizás las toxinas en el agua absorbidas a traves de la piel se acumulan allí. Al investigar más sobre el tema, esa no fue la respuesta que encontré.

Las toxinas en cuestión aquí son varias moléculas conocidas como contaminantes orgánicos persistentes (COP), que incluyen los químicos (DDT) y (PCB). Los COP son conocidos por su resistencia a la descomposición a largo plazo, también conocida como persistencia, así como por su naturaleza orgánica que les permite acumularse en los cuerpos de plantas y animales.

Hay muchos beneficios culturales y de salud bien documentados para comer pescado y los COP no impiden que los peces capturados localmente sean beneficiosos, pero su presencia significa que los pescadores deben tener en cuenta los tipos de pescado que comen y los métodos de preparación.

Los Ángeles es el hogar de muchos pescadores de subsistencia que dependen de la pesca como fuente principal de proteínas, y estas poblaciones son las más vulnerables a los COP. Estas preocupaciones con las fuentes locales de alimentos capturados en el medio silvestre provienen de la contaminación local de los sedimentos, suelos y aguas subterráneas de Los Ángeles.

El mayor ejemplo de contaminación por COP en el condado de Los Ángeles fue causado por la compañía Montrose Chemical cerca de Torrance. Esta fábrica elaboró DDT y eliminó sus desechos, incluidos DDT y PCB, en el sistema de alcantarillado durante 28 años, que en ese momento se liberaron directamente al océano sin tratamiento. Más de cien toneladas de DDT y once toneladas de PCB fueron liberadas en el océano frente a la península de Palos Verdes. La fabricación y  uso doméstico del DDT se prohibieron en los Estados Unidos en 1972, sin embargo, la molécula misma persiste en nuestra area y en los mariscos hasta el día de hoy.

El Programa Educacional Pesquero (AOP, por sus siglas en inglés) de Heal the Bay educa a los pescadores de muelles y costa en el Condado de Los Ángeles y Condado de Orange, sobre los riesgos de consumir pescados contaminados con DDT y PCB. Creado en el 2003, AOP es un componente del Programa Educacional sobre la Contaminación de Peces (FCEC, por sus siglas en inés) y administrado por la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de los Estados Unidos (EPA, por sus siglas en inglés) como parte de un programa de educación pública y divulgación.

Realmente no es justo pedirles a los pescadores o cualquier persona que cambien su comportamiento de esta manera, pero muy pocos aspectos de la contaminación son justas. Si bien los COP son una preocupación mundial, está claro que la mayoría de los impactos de esta contaminación en la salud pública, incluidos el cáncer y los trastornos reproductivos, son desproporcionadamente experimentados por las comunidades de primera línea, que son comunidades compuestas principalmente por personas de color y/o de estatus socioeconómico más bajo.

Ahora, volviendo a la pregunta sobre la piel de pescado. Los COP son una amenaza particular en los peces porque los ecosistemas marinos y los de agua dulce son reservorios importantes de contaminantes persistentes. Los COP son arrastrados a cuerpos acuáticos por escorrentía, viento u otros medios y permanecen en esos ecosistemas secuestrados en los sedimentos orgánicos. Estos sedimentos a veces se conocen como “sumideros” porque pueden albergar COP durante cientos de años, excepto cuando son introducidos en la cadena alimenticia por los peces que se alimentan de los fondos.

Al subir por la cadena alimenticia, estos productos químicos orgánicos se concentran a niveles que pueden ser mucho más altos que el que se encuentra en el agua (también conocida como bioacumulación). Si hay contaminación microplástica en el agua, los COP se adherirán al plástico, se concentrarán más allá y generarán riesgos de concentraciones mayores de COP que ingresen a la cadena alimenticia.

Los peces absorben principalmente los COP de los sedimentos a través de sus vías digestivas y branquias, y solo en pequeña medida a través de su piel. Una vez dentro del cuerpo, los COP son rápidamente “atrapados” por las grasas, donde se disuelven fácilmente para su almacenamiento a largo plazo. Las reservas normales de grasa en los peces (y en los humanos) se encuentran en el hígado y la grasa subcutánea, que es la capa de grasa directamente debajo de la piel y que desempeña un papel en la regulación de la temperatura. Cuando la grasa se descompone debido al hambre u otros factores, los COP se liberan en el torrente sanguíneo y causan daño.

Dicho esto, no es técnicamente la piel del pez lo que almacena los contaminantes, sino la capa subcutánea de grasa justo debajo de la piel. Al quitar la piel del pescado, se elimina esta capa de grasa donde se almacenan los COP. Curiosamente, estas moléculas se comportan y se almacenan de manera similar una vez que ingresan al cuerpo humano a través de su tracto digestivo.

En caso de que esta información te haga sentir mal, Los Ángeles está tomando medidas para reducir la contaminación. Es casi imposible eliminar los COP de nuestro medio ambiente y vida silvestre, por lo que el objetivo es evitar que ingresen más. Existe la esperanza de que el próximo permiso de drenaje pluvial, también conocido como el permiso municipal de alcantarillado pluvial (MS4, por sus siglas en inglés), sea lo suficientemente fuerte y ejecutable como para reducir la contaminación local mediante la regulación de la descarga industrial de aguas residuales en los desagües pluviales. Afortunadamente, una reciente decisión de la Corte Suprema tomada en abril de 2020 (19) reforzó los estándares regulatorios de los permisos MS4 al decir que aplican a las aguas residuales vertidas en las aguas subterráneas, así como a los desagües pluviales.

¿Como puedes ayudar? Lo mejor que puedes hacer es educarte sobre qué peces son seguros para la pesca,  cuales se pueden comer en Los Ángeles y cómo prepararlos de manera segura. Posiblemente, lo mejor que puedes hacer, es comunicarte con la Junta de Agua local y expresar tu apoyo a un simple, transparente, medible y exigible permiso MS4, para reducir la cantidad de nuevos contaminantes que ingresan a nuestro medio ambiente. Lee nuestro blog reciente sobre el permiso MS4 para aprender más información y regístrate para mantenerte actualizado sobre los llamados de acción del MS4 (22).


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California has long been a leader in fighting plastic pollution, and our leadership can have rippling impact. When we banned single-use plastic bags in 2016, we were the first state to do so. Now, eight states have done it. It’s up to us to continue to push solutions to an issue that is devastating our oceans and frontline communities.

The California Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act of 2020 is a California ballot initiative aimed at reducing plastic pollution, restoring and protecting environments harmed by plastic pollution, and increasing recycling. Among other objectives, this initiative would:

  1. Reduce the amount of single-use plastic sold in CA by 25% by 2030
  2. Ensure the remaining is truly recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2030
  3. Create a “plastics tax”: a fee on plastic producers that will help fund the state’s recycling and composting infrastructure, and restore environments impacted by plastic pollution
  4. Phase out the use of Expanded Polystyrene (so called “Styrofoam”) takeout containers in favor of more sustainable alternatives

If passed by voters, it would be the strongest regulation on disposable plastics in the country. This groundbreaking legislation was introduced in 2019 by Recology, a trash and recycling hauling company, and is supporting by numerous environmental organizations including Heal the Bay.

To get on the statewide ballot in 2022, this initiative needs signatures from California voters, and LOTS of them! As of now, the initiative is on track to qualify thanks to signatures from hundreds of thousands of Californians, but we need your help to get it past the finish line. Because signature gatherers have been pulled off of the streets due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are bringing the signature gathering to you. We have fortunately been given an extension on the deadline to get these signatures in, giving us a second chance to get the signatures we need.

To send in your signature, follow these simple steps. It’s as easy as PRINT. SIGN. MAIL. DONE. Please send in your signatures by the end of September for them to count.

  1. PRINT THE PETITION AND TOP FUNDERS SHEET
    • Do not fill out on a computer
    • You will need to print, staple, and submit all 8 pages (double-sided is ok)
    • Review the text if you want more information on the initiative
  2. FILL IN YOUR INFORMATION
    • On Page 8, fill in the county that you live in and are registered to vote in
    • Fill in the signature box with your Printed Name & Residence Address, Signature, City & Zip Code
    • Fill in the Declaration of Circulator box with your: Printed Name & Residence, Address Date range in which you obtained your signature(s) (can be the same day), Date you executed (signed) the Declaration of Circulator (must be signed last), Location of signing, and Signature
  3. MAIL YOUR COMPLETED PETITION
    • Place the signed, stapled petition (all 8 pages) in an envelope and seal securely
    • Use 2 Forever® letter stamps for a standard letter envelope. Use 3 Forever® stamps for a “9×12” envelope (add 2 Forever® stamps per additional petition included after the first)
    • Place in outgoing mailbox to the following address:

CAMPAIGN OFFICES PLASTICS-FREE CA

26500 W. Agoura Rd, #102-146

Calabasas, CA 91302

Want more detailed instructions? Head to the Plastic Free CA Campaign Website or check out this PDF with step by step instructions.

 

FAQs

Why do we have to print all 8 pages? That seems wasteful.

We agree, and we wish it was possible to submit signatures digitally just as much as you do. Unfortunately, the signature gathering protocol set by the state where many signatures are collected on one page by hired employees has been around for a very long time, and up until this year, had never been an issue. COVID-19 changed all that, and the state did not have time to set up a digital signature gathering method that would effectively count and verify signatures. So, printing and mailing is the best method the state has available to collect signatures at a safe distance.

Can others sign the same petition I print out?

Absolutely. We highly recommend having everyone in your household and shelter in place circle sign the same petition that you do. This will save paper AND get more signatures in.

Why won’t it be on the ballot until 2022?

Ballot initiatives appear on the ballot every two years, and this bill didn’t meet the deadline to make it onto this year’s ballot, so our next opportunity is in 2022.

How is this initiative different from Senate Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 1080?

Although they are very similar, these bills focus on ALL disposable materials, not just plastics, and use different methods to reduce them. These bills also must be passed by the California legislature, whereas California voters themselves can pass the ballot initiative.

What if I have more questions?

Get in touch! Send an email to info@plasticsfreeca.org with your questions.

 


More Ways to Get Involved:



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, 92% 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 2019-2020 Beach Bummers List, a ranking of the ten most polluted beaches in the state based on levels of harmful bacteria. This year, six of the ten Beach Bummers are from San Mateo County and the remaining four are in Southern California.

The Beach Bummers of 2020

  1. No. 1 – Fitzgerald Marine Reserve at San Vicente Creek Outlet (San Mateo County) Fitzgerald Marine Reserve has never appeared on the Beach Bummer list before. The beach generally has good summer water quality, but is impacted by dry weather runoff from San Vicente Creek. This beach is one of six San Mateo County Beach Bummers this year, which is unprecedented for one county.
  2. No. 2 – Poche Beach at Creek Outlet (Orange County) Poche Beach is no stranger to the Beach Bummer list, appearing on the list in 2018, 2013, 2012, and 2011. The beach is impacted by the Prima Deshecha Cañada storm drain (referred to as Poche Creek), which carries pollution into the ocean even during dry weather from the Dana Point area.
  3. No. 3 – Pillar Point Harbor at Capistrano Avenue (San Mateo County) Pillar Point Harbor at Capistrano Avenue is one of three Pillar Point Harbor Beach Bummers this year. There are several storm drains that carry pollutants into the harbor in dry weather, and the seawalls around the harbor prevent pollutants from getting flushed away.
  4. No. 4 – Foster City, Erckenbrack Park (San Mateo County) Erckenbrack Park is a first time Beach Bummer; however, this area of the San Francisco Bay has had a known record of poor water quality. This beach lies within an engineered patchwork of enclosed channels that are impacted by dry weather runoff from the surrounding residential and commercial developments.
  5. No. 5 – Topanga Beach at Creek Outlet (Los Angeles County) A 2014 study found Topanga Lagoon as the likely source of bacteria pollution at Topanga Beach. The lagoon sees high amounts of bird and dog fecal matter. When breached, the fecal matter flows into the ocean resulting in high bacteria concentrations. Planning for a lagoon restoration is underway and could mitigate poor water quality.
  6. No. 6 – Pillar Point Harbor Beach (San Mateo County) Pillar Point Harbor Beach is the second of three Beach Bummers contained within the Pillar Point Harbor. Unfortunately, it appears that the entire harbor was more polluted than normal this past year.
  7. No. 7 – Linda Mar Beach at San Pedro Creek (San Mateo County) Linda Mar Beach is making its third consecutive appearance on the Beach Bummer list this year, and is one of six San Mateo County Bummers. This beach is impacted by runoff during dry weather, which flows untreated into the ocean through San Pedro Creek.
  8. No. 8 – Mission Bay, Vacation Isle North Cove (San Diego County) Vacation Isle North Cove is an enclosed beach in Mission Bay that is impacted by dry weather runoff from the surrounding commercial and residential developments. Pollutants are not easily flushed away from this enclosed beach, which is located within a deep cove.
  9. No. 9 – San Clemente Pier (Orange County) San Clemente Pier is making its second consecutive appearance on the Beach Bummer list and is one of two Orange County Beach Bummers this year. This beach is impacted by untreated dry weather runoff that flows into the ocean through a storm drain.
  10. No. 10 – Pillar Point Harbor at Westpoint Avenue (San Mateo County) Rounding out the Beach Bummer list is Pillar Point Harbor at Westpoint Avenue, which is the third Pillar Point Harbor Beach Bummer and one of six San Mateo County Beach Bummers this year. Untreated dry weather runoff appears to be causing significant water quality problems in this enclosed harbor.

For a detailed look at beach results by location, why some beaches are more vulnerable to higher levels of pollution, and more information about the Beach Bummers (pages 16-18), refer to our complete annual Beach Report Card 2019-20

Polluted ocean waters are a significant health risk to beachgoers. We encourage all beachgoers to check the Beach Report Card when planning a trip to the ocean! Because a day at the beach shouldn’t make anyone sick.

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. 

See more highlights from this year’s report.



Recent school closures mean many students are not getting the daily education they need. While we all should be practicing physical distancing at this time, we also need to put our brainpower and creative energy to good use and innovate to give students more opportunities to keep learning remotely.

Gotitas del Saber is Heal the Bay’s new interactive science education series, where our team of scientists, experts, and advocates explores the water world and offers fun lessons about the marine environment. Each session is about 1-hour long and includes a live presentation, Q&A, polls, and videos. Activities are generally geared for 3rd – 8th grade students, but all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend!

________

El reciente cierre de las escuelas significa que gran parte de los estudiantes no reciban la educación diaria necesaria. En estos momentos en los que todos debemos practicar el distanciamiento físico es necesario hacer buen uso de toda nuestra energía y capacidad cerebral e innovar para darle a nuestros estudiantes más oportunidades para seguir aprendiendo de manera remota.

Heal the Bay está respondiendo a esta situación con una nueva serie interactiva de educación científica llamada “Gotas de conocimiento” o Knowledge Drops por su nombre en inglés, donde nuestro grupo de científicos, expertos y defensores exploran el mundo acuático y ofrecen divertidas lecciones acerca del entorno marino. Cada lección tiene una duración aproximada de una hora e incluye una presentación en vivo, una sección de preguntas y respuestas, encuestas y videos. Nuestra nueva serie web está pensada para estudiantes del 3° al 8° grado pero ¡personas de todas las edades son bien recibidas y están invitadas a participar!

______

Click to visit our English language “Knowledge Drop” series.

See all recorded Knowledge Drops.

Gotitas del Saber:

PAST EVENTS (LINK TO VIDEOS BELOW)

4/22 – LA HISTORIA DEL DIA DE LA TIERRA 🌏
5/6 – CONOCE EL FLUJO 💦
5/13 – DESAGUES PLUVIALES 🌧
5/20 – PLASTICOS 🥤
5/27 – PESCADO CONTIMINADOS 🎣
6/10 – VIRUS Y CALIDAD DEL AGUA
6/17 –  SITIO SUPERFUND 🆘
6/24 – ACUARIO Y LIMPIEZA COSTERA 🌀
7/1 – ÁREAS MARINAS PROTEGIDAS (MPAs)🛡
7/15 – TOXICIDAD ACUÁTICA
7/22 – LOS CABALLITOS DE MAR Y GARIBALDI 🐴
7/29 – SHARKS AND RAYS / TIBURONES Y MANTARRAYAS 🦈

If you are a teacher with a topic suggestion, please contact us with your idea.


Resources and Videos/Recursos:

All previously-recorded Gotitas Del Saber webinar videos are posted here as an ongoing marine science education repository for you to access. (To view the webinar recordings please visit the ‘gotowebinar’ links below and enter in your contact information. We will only use your email address to update you about upcoming “Gotitas Del Saber” and you can opt out at any time.)

Todas las grabaciones anteriores de “Gotas de conocimiento” (Knowledge Drops) son publicadas aquí de manera continua para tu consulta a modo de archivo para la educación de las ciencias marinas. (Para ver las grabaciones en la página web por favor visita los enlaces “gotowebinar” ubicados más abajo e ingresa tu información. Usaremos tu dirección de correo electrónico para mantenerte informado de las nuevas “Gotas de conocimiento” (Knowledge Drops) y podrás salir cuando lo desees.)

Gotitas del Saber: La historia del Día de la Tierra

Recorded Webinar/Webinar grabado:: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/4446715700219695361

More Information/Más información:

Gotitas del Saber: Conoce el Flujo

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/2622740259256834566

More Information:

Gotitas del Saber: Desagues Pluviales

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/6033268098610078222

More Information:

Gotitas del Saber: Plasticos

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3195564926916837132

More Information:

Gotitas del Saber: Pescados Contaminados

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/848989410095476225

More Information:

Gotitas del Saber: Virus y Calidad del Agua

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/9161552403089257478

More Information:

Gotitas del Saber: Aquatic Toxicity: Sources and Solutions

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/4000079784492577294

More Information:

Gotitas del Saber: Sitio Superfund

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3636684594553388047

More Information:

Gotitas del Saber: Aquario y Limpieza Costera

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/5657488010514034189

More Information:

Gotitas del Saber: Áreas Marinas Protegidas (MPAS)

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/6766161868839098128

More Information:

Gotitas del Saber: Crustaceans

Recorded Webinar:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/1116456609554810369

More Information:

Gotitas del Saber: MicroSafari (en Español)

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/6461401435030243855

Gotitas del Saber: Toxicidad Acuática

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/5609503124519119873

Gotitas del Saber: Los Caballitos De Mar Y Garibaldi

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3450783567349679107

Gotitas del Saber: Tiburones y Mantarrayas

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/1511927852828490255


Activity Guides



Sign Petition

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

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

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

What do the EPA rollbacks mean?

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

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

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

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

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

What are people doing about these rollbacks?

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

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

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

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

How you can help!

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

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

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

 

Sign Petition

 



Even though it is raining (and snowing) this week across the region, this season’s California snowpack is still well below the historical average for the start of April. Millions of Californians rely on this critical source of water for drinking and irrigation. A small snowpack points to the urgent need for us to conserve and reuse local water. Dr. Shelley Luce, Heal the Bay President and CEO, shares what was top of mind before the COVID-19 response, and why we can’t lose sight of our water.

At the end of last year, I was high up in the mountains with family and friends. We spent our time playing outside, laughing for hours and sledding on a snowy hillside. When I caught my breath, I took cold air deeply into my lungs. The mountain air felt so fresh. There was no wind, and the tall trees on either side of our sledding hill were perfectly still except for the bounding echoes of our joyful voices. It was a beautiful moment.

At the bottom of the hill the dark brown earth, which smelled of moss and mud, peeked through the white snow. I heard the sound of running water and looked closer: there was a stream of clear water flowing down through the tiny meadow toward the road. And I was struck: this is our water. This is Sierra snowmelt. This is the backbone, the source of drinking and irrigation water for millions of people in California. First seeping through a meadow that holds water like a sponge, then emerging as a trickle that builds to a stream that meets others to form a river that supplies a farm or a city. This is our water. And it’s in danger.

Far away on the coast people are drinking, cooking and showering with this very water. This very water is being washed down a drain, through a pipe to a treatment plant and then pushed out to sea. So much energy expended to take this very water from the mountains and valleys it nourishes, down to our homes and businesses in Los Angeles, to filter our waste out of it, to send it into the ocean and then to keep taking more and more every day of our lives. All of this is happening while the climate changes and the snowpack, that backbone, is diminishing and its future is in question.

However, we are changing this wasteful system. In 2019 Mayor Garcetti announced a plan to reuse all the water from our City’s treatment plants. That’s millions of gallons a day of water that will get reused here in LA, so we can stop draining it from our mountain streams. This is proof: we can adapt to climate change by changing a wasteful, linear process to a sustainable, circular system that supports people and nature.

This was our greatest victory last year and the culmination of decades of hard work. We have much more to do in this uncertain climate to protect our water and the awe-inspiring life it nourishes. Together, let’s take action. In the year ahead, we need to sound the alarm on the climate crisis, we need to enact strong science-based policies, and we need to remember the earthly moments that move our hearts and embolden us to take on new challenges with compassion and fortitude.

I look forward to working alongside you in 2020 as Heal the Bay celebrates its 35th anniversary! Thank you for continuing on this epic journey with us.

Dr. Shelley Luce
President and CEO

 

This article was originally published in Heal the Bay’s 2019 Annual Report in February 2020.

 

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Recent school closures mean many students are not getting the daily education they need. While we all should be practicing physical distancing at this time, we also need to put our brainpower and creative energy to good use and innovate to give students more opportunities to keep learning remotely.

Heal the Bay is responding with a new interactive science education series “Knowledge Drops”, where our team of scientists, experts, and advocates explores the water world and offers fun lessons about the marine environment. Each session is about 1-hour long and includes a live presentation, Q&A, polls, and videos. Our new webinar series is generally geared for 3rd – 8th grade students, but all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend!

See all recorded Knowledge Drops.

Knowledge Drops:

NO UPCOMING EVENTS

PAST EVENTS (LINK TO RECORDINGS AND RESOURCES BELOW)

3/18 – THE SEWAGE SYSTEM 💩
3/20 – KNOW THE FLOW 💦
3/23 – MARVELOUS MOLLUSKS 🐙
3/25 – STORM DRAINS 🌧
3/27  – MARINE PROTECTED AREAS 🐟
3/30 – SHARKS AND RAYS 🦈
4/1 – BEACH REPORT CARD 📈
4/3 – PLASTICS 🥤
4/6 – SEA JELLIES 💧
4/8 – ECHINODERMS ⭐️
4/10 – CLEAN WATER ACT 📜
4/13 – COASTAL SHORE BIRDS 🦆
4/15 – COMMUNITY SCIENCE 🔬
4/17 – CONTAMINATED SEAFOOD 🎣
4/20 – KELP 🌿
4/22 – HISTORY OF EARTH DAY 🌎
4/22 – LA HISTORIA DEL DIA DE LA TIERRA 🌏
4/24 – CLIMATE CHANGE ⚠️
4/27 – TIDE POOLS 🦀
4/29 – SEA TURTLES 🐢
5/1 – STREAMS OF THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS 🐸
5/6 – CONOCE EL FLUJO 💦
5/8 – VIRUSES AND WATER QUALITY: IS IT SAFE TO SWIM?
5/11 – MICROSAFARI 🔍
5/13 – DESAGUES PLUVIALES 🌧
5/15 – ALGAL BLOOMS 🌊
5/18 – PENGUINS, OUR OCEAN FRINDS 🐧
5/20 – PLASTICOS 🥤
5/22 – NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS 🌳
5/27 – PESCADO CONTIMINADOS 🎣
5/29 – NATIONAL ESTUARY PROGRAM 🏞
6/3 – BLOOMS ALGAL 🌊
6/4 – NICK GABALDON DAY 🏄🏾‍♂️
6/8 – HISTORY OF WORLD OCEANS DAY  🌍
6/10 – VIRUS Y CALIDAD DEL AGUA
6/12 – AQUATIC TOXICITY: SOURCES AND SOLUTIONS 🚫
6/15 –  HOW DO I EAT? 🥄
6/17 –  SITIO SUPERFUND 🆘
6/19 –  SEA LEVEL RISE AND CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION 🔝
6/22 –  SEAHORSES AND OTHER FINTASTIC FATHERS 🏆
6/24 – ACUARIO Y LIMPIEZA COSTERA 🌀
6/26 – RIVER REPORT CARD 📊
6/29 – GO WITH THE GLOW: MARINE BIOLUMINESCENCE & BIOFLUORESCENCE 💡
7/1 – ÁREAS MARINAS PROTEGIDAS (MPAs)🛡
7/6 – CRUSTACEANS 🦐
7/8 – MICROSAFARI 🔎
7/10 – THE SCIENCE OF SURFING: MAKING WAVES 💨
7/15 – TOXICIDAD ACUÁTICA
7/17 – THE SCIENCE OF SURFING: BREAKING WAVES 🏄🏽‍♀️
7/22 – SEAHORSES AND GARIBALDI / LOS CABALLITOS DE MAR Y GARIBALDI 🐴
7/24 – THE FUTURE OF CALIFORNIA’S MPAs 🔮
7/29 – SHARKS AND RAYS / TIBURONES Y MANTARRAYAS 🦈
7/31 – NOWCAST AND COMPUTER CODING 🖥

 



If you are a teacher with a topic suggestion, please contact us with your idea.


Resources and Videos:

All previously recorded Knowledge Drops webinar videos are posted here as an ongoing marine science education repository for you to access. (To view the webinar recordings please visit the ‘gotowebinar’ links below and enter in your contact information. We will only use your email address to update you about upcoming “Knowledge Drops” and you can opt out at any time.)

Knowledge Drops: The Sewage System

Recorded Webinar:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/4060559519187745537

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Know the Flow

Recorded Webinar:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3731720880131676929

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Knowledge Drops: Marvelous Mollusks

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/1113287814740681997

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Knowledge Drops: Storm Drains

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3714805993360585228

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Knowledge Drops: Marine Protected Areas

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/6774566533598479118

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Knowledge Drops: Sharks and Rays

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/2799933154324367873

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Knowledge Drops: Beach Report Card

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/2647981746921586183

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Knowledge Drops: Plastics

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/2108763652518416390

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Knowledge Drops: Sea Jellies

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/7805031030394553612

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Knowledge Drops: Echinoderms

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/1666934800615825409

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Knowledge Drops: Clean Water Act

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/49080406197676296

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Knowledge Drops: Coastal Shore Birds

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/8011810684827116557

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Knowledge Drops: Community Science

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/5143253017727002625

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Knowledge Drops: Contaminated Seafood 

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3010226848162550540

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Knowledge Drops: Kelp

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/7135795686275352323

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Knowledge Drops: History of Earth Day

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/9196918193512903691

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Knowledge Drops: La historia del Día de la Tierra

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/4446715700219695361

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Knowledge Drops: Climate Change

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/4260433141749869576

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Knowledge Drops: Tide Pools

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/7691541639666544642

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Knowledge Drops: Sea Turtles

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/4124039823946440967

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Knowledge Drops: Streams of the Santa Monica Mountains

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/836241671707943942

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Knowledge Drops: Conoce el Flujo

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/2622740259256834566

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Knowledge Drops: Viruses and Water Quality

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3755868355584721676

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Knowledge Drops: MicroSafari

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3060639456826881296

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Knowledge Drops: Desagues Pluviales

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/6033268098610078222

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Knowledge Drops: Algal Blooms

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/9101984161056214031

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Knowledge Drops: Penguins, Our Ocean Friends

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/5651654000998667271

Knowledge Drops: Plasticos

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3195564926916837132

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Knowledge Drops: Nature-Based Solutions

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/5626478483345947656

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Knowledge Drops: Pescados Contaminados

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/848989410095476225

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Knowledge Drops: Blooms Algal

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/7583230949052736528

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Knowledge Drops: Nick Gabaldon Day

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/5352684695196396558

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Knowledge Drops: History of World Oceans Day

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/5875102252017903117

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Knowledge Drops: Virus y Calidad del Agua

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/9161552403089257478

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Knowledge Drops: Aquatic Toxicity: Sources and Solutions

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/4000079784492577294

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Knowledge Drops: How Do I Eat?

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/5523565295028591874

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Knowledge Drops: Sitio Superfund

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3636684594553388047

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Knowledge Drops: Sea Level Rise and Climate Change Adaptation

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/5604186985223808015

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Knowledge Drops: Seahorses and Other Fantastic Fathers

Recorded Webinar:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/5378112001456551435

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Knowledge Drops: Aquario y Limpieza Costera

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/5657488010514034189

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Knowledge Drops: River Report Card

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/5829170154165669133

 

Knowledge Drops: Marine Bioluminescence & Biofluorescence

Recorded Webinar:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/4556212766197647874 

 More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Áreas Marinas Protegidas (MPAS)

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/6766161868839098128

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Knowledge Drops: Crustaceans

Recorded Webinar:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/1116456609554810369

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: MicroSafari (en Español)

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/6461401435030243855

Knowledge Drops: The Science of Surfing: Making Waves

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3483683154009164559

Knowledge Drops: Toxicidad Acuática

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/5609503124519119873

Knowledge Drops: The Science of Surfing: Breaking Waves

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/8071947375896586247

Knowledge Drops: Seahorses and Garibaldi / Los Caballitos De Mar Y Garibaldi

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3450783567349679107

Knowledge Drops: The Future of California’s MPAs

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3986487622678927873

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Sharks and Rays / Tiburones y Mantarrayas

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/1511927852828490255

Knowledge Drops: NowCast and Computer Coding

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3265895189780110337


Activity Guides



 

We’re tackling the biggest threats to the Bay by harnessing The Power of Water in 2020. The following three goals represent our key areas of focus this year:

 

Sound the Alarm for Climate Action

What we’re doing: Mitigating the life-altering impacts of climate change by empowering people to make smart choices now to create a sustainable and equitable future.

How we’re doing it: Water is where many will feel climate impacts first: water reliability in a changing climate is paramount. We are scrutinizing the City of LA’s plans for reusing wastewater as well as local projects to capture stormwater, to ensure they are equitable, effective and sustainable. At Heal the Bay Aquarium and events we are engaging the public to take daily actions — like extending Meatless Monday to One Meal a Day for the Ocean — to help mitigate the extremes of warming temperatures, ocean acidification and sea level rise.


Protect Public Health with Strong Science and Outreach

What we’re doing: Protecting people’s health through science-based education and outreach on contaminated water and fish at LA beaches and rivers.

How we’re doing it: We are expanding the reach and scientific rigor of our Beach Report Card, River Report Card and Angler Outreach programs to increase community and agency engagement on issues that directly affect public health. Our focus is on pollution, access, recreational use and fish consumption. We are also advocating for strong water quality protections and better public awareness tools to inform the most impacted communities.


Ban Single-Use Plastic for Good

What we’re doing: Eliminating harmful plastic waste from our beaches and waterways, and restoring the vibrancy of our ocean and watersheds.

How we’re doing it: A dramatic shift away from single-use plastics is needed because less than 10% of plastic waste is recycled and the rest winds up in landfills and the natural environment. Alongside a coalition of NGOs we are helping to establish “Reusable LA”, a new campaign to build a thriving culture of reuse and refill in LA County, encouraging people and businesses to go plastic-free and support new policies that ban disposable plastics in LA County and statewide.


Get Involved

Volunteer With Us

Take Part in a Beach Cleanup

Visit Our Aquarium

Donate


Ver En Español



2019 has been a thrilling legislative season in California. From plastics bills that steadily move us toward a culture of reusability in the state, to improved coastal access for all Californians, our state government has made some major headway in passing environmental bills. Heal the Bay has been closely tracking and advocating for the most important environmental bills of 2019, and we are very excited by some of the progress that has been made this year.

Let’s take a look at the winners (and losers) of 2019.

Of the thousands of bills introduced earlier this year, 1,042 in total made their way to the governor’s desk and 870 of them were signed by Governor Newsom, making them law. This includes some major environmental bills, such as Assembly Bill 619, also dubbed the BYO bill. This bill, introduced by Assemblymember Chiu, clarifies language in the public health code regarding reusable containers, making it easier for consumers to bring their own container to their favorite watering holes and lunch spots. This bill also allows temporary food facilities, like those at fairs and festivals, to use reusable service ware instead of single-use disposables (which were required before this bill was passed). The bill will greatly reduce waste at temporary events and you can now easily fill up that reusable tumbler just about anywhere you go, even food trucks and stands!

Governor Newsom also signed Assembly Bill 1680 (Assemblymember Limón) into law, which will develop a coastal access program for the beaches at Hollister Ranch, an area with 8.5 miles of coastline and no current access to the beaches for the public. This landmark bill will allow any member of the public access to these special Santa Barbara beaches, and is a big win for coastal access for all Californians.

While smoking on the beaches of LA County may have been banned years ago, this was not the case for the rest of California. However, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 8 (Senator Glazer) into law, which makes it illegal to smoke on any state beach or state park across all of California. As the number one littered item, cigarette butts cause great harm to the environment. Made of plastics and filled with hundreds of chemicals, cigarette butts are notorious polluters of beaches, parks and waterways. This bill will help to reduce this pervasive litter item, and protect the health of beachgoers and park visitors.

More environmental bills that were passed this year include:

  • AB 65 – Coastal Protection and Climate Adaption (natural infrastructure)
  • AB 209 – Outdoor Equity Grants Program
  • AB 762 – Shellfish Health Advisory
  • AB 834 – Harmful Algal Bloom Program
  • AB 912 – Marine Invasive Species Management
  • AB 948 – Coyote Valley Conservation Program
  • AB 936 –Oil Spill Response – Non-floating oil
  • AB 1162 – Ban on Hotel Small Plastic Bottles of Personal Care Products
  • AB 1583 – The California Recycling Market Development Act
  • SB 367 – Technical Assistance for State Coastal Conservancy Educational Projects and Programs
  • SB 576 – The Climate Ready Program

While the passage of these bills is a major success, not every environmental bill was signed into law.

Governor Newsom vetoed Assembly Bill 792 (Assemblymember Ting), a minimum recycled content bill that would have increased the minimum amount of recycled plastic used to produce plastic beverage bottles. Though the Governor supports this type of standard, the bill was deemed costly and burdensome for the state, and was therefore not signed into law. Heal the Bay advocates and our partners hope to solve the issues with this bill brought on by last minute amendments and bring back a better version next year.

Also vetoed by the governor was Senate Bill 1 (Senator Atkins), a bill that would have enacted the California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2019. This act would have ensured protections afforded under federal labor and environmental laws and regulations as of January 2017 (such as the Clean Water Act or the Endangered Species Act) would remain in place in the state of California in the event of future federal regulation changes. It essentially would have acted as a public health and environmental insurance bill to prevent rollbacks at the federal level. Governor Newsom vetoed this bill due to disagreements about its efficacy and necessity. Heal the Bay supports measures such as Senate Bill 1 as they are critical in protecting our state’s natural resources and we were disappointed to see this bill vetoed.

Finally, the pièce de résistance, Senate Bill 54 (Senator Allen) and Assembly Bill 1080 (Assemblymember Gonzalez), also known as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. These landmark bills came inches from the end zone, but due to last-minute amendments and new opposition, did not make the deadline to pass this year. Don’t worry, the fight isn’t over. The bills will be eligible for a vote as early as January 2020, and Heal the Bay and other bill’s supporters (all 426,000 of them!) will continue fighting to pass this bill to holistically reduce disposable waste and prevent plastic pollution in the state of California.

Have questions about our advocacy work at Heal the Bay? Interested in hearing about the bills we are fighting for (or against)? Follow us on social media  (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook), and reach out to our Science and Policy team!

Ver En Español



Our team at Frogspot in Elysian Valley. The LA River’s soft, mud-bottom sections are capable of supporting vegetation and wildlife.

In the summer of 2019, Heal the Bay’s team of water quality monitors spent many sunny days gathering freshwater samples from Malibu Creek State Park and the LA River, and testing them for bacterial-pollution in the lab. (Dive deeper into the findings.)

We’re thankful to partner with Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC) who allowed us to work out of one of their labs, managed by Manuel Robles. As always, our team included local students eager to learn about water quality and public health. Along with sampling, this group also took part in outreach, educating and encouraging more people to be invested in improving the health of the LA River Watershed.

Read on for some of our team’s favorite highlights from the summer

Erik Solis
My favorite part about the summer program was not only the job itself, but the outreach to younger students who show interest in environmental science. I was able to tell them about what I do for Heal the Bay, why it matters, and how they can contribute themselves. It all comes together to make a positive impact in the community and encourage young minds to promote a cleaner L.A. watershed. I enjoyed the work I’ve done this summer, as I know I have done a huge service to the L.A. river area. I can recall this one time a couple of fishermen and women said, “Hey, the Bay healers are here!” Another favorite part was participating in the Coastal Cleanup day on September 21st, as not only was I able to meet a lot of people, talk to students, and clean up a river, but I was also able to bring my family out to participate and enjoy doing their part in doing a service to the Greater Los Angeles Area. I have also enjoyed the lab work, but it was a little overshadowed by the field work.
Stephanie Alvarez
As someone who grew in Los Angeles I wasn’t as aware of how much nature we still have in the city, and I want to help protect it and the people who want to enjoy it. My most favorite memory was when a few of us got to speak to high school students and saw how most of them grasped the urgency of keeping our water clean. They all had their own unique ideas and all agreed that keeping our waters clean was very important. This gave me even more hope that we will be able to save our bodies of water. As someone who wants to help find ways to clean water, in an effective and cheap manner, this experience helped me see the problem in different angles. I went into this program thinking only of how to clean water to drink it, and now I am thinking about how we can make it clean enough for people to swim in and wildlife to thrive in. This program helped me gain experience in the lab and helped me dream bigger. We were so lucky to have worked alongside many amazing people, and I wanted to thank Luke for being an amazing leader! I suggest, if you are reading this and you want to help your planet, to get involved. There are so many programs and events that you can sign up for free. Change always starts with one person! Together we can save our planet and our wildlife!
Blaire Edwards
I started off by trying something different and left with an abundance of information about the environment around me. My favorite part of this experience had to be learning about all the matters happening environmentally and what I can do to get more involved and help make a difference.
Christina Huggins
With so many adventurers heading outdoors to enjoy the summer weather, the highlight of sampling water quality for Heal the Bay this summer was the opportunity to connect with the community and educate them about their environment. From early morning hikes through the Santa Monica Mountains to curious explorers and hikers asking questions about our yellow boots and sample bottles. Getting the opportunity to be a part of keeping the public informed about freshwater quality has given me a new direction in my career and educational path.
Michelle Allen
The biggest highlight of working on the team this summer is knowing that what we do and the information we collect makes it to the general public. The fact that our samples that we test affect people’s choices to make safer decisions, is a huge part of why I love being a part of this team. Collecting samples is always something fun to me. I love the fact that we go out into nature and see how the land changes each time we go out while meeting people along the way.
Olivia Garcia
My favorite part of the summer was collecting water samples for analysis. I liked being able to see, understand, and make note of the factors that could potentially contaminate the water quality in the river. I was also fascinated with the quality control protocol. I gained a lot of knowledge about the importance of consistency in documentation and testing, and a better intuitive understanding of quality control as a whole. It’s hard to pick out what the overall highlight of the summer was because it was all so amazing.
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Christina and Michelle collecting samples from the popular Rock Pool in Malibu Creek State Park.

Learn more about our summer of freshwater sampling and our River Report Card.