It is with heavy heart that we mourn the passing of Cindy Montañez (January 19, 1974 – October 21, 2023).
Successful nonprofit leaders typically embrace one of two types of advocacies — either grassroots or grasstops. Grass-toppers exert extra influence on campaigns by mobilizing influential politicians and high-profile movers-and-shakers. Grassrooters, on the other hand, rely on passionate everyday people in the community to rally around a given cause and demand change.
Grasstop power is knowing the right people. Grassroots power is strength in numbers.
Cindy Montañez, the longtime CEO of TreePeople who passed away today, was the rare policymaker who had the charisma and smarts to wield both forms of power. She knew how to work her roots and the political treetops.
At heart a Valley Girl, Montañez worked tirelessly to promote the interests of the working-class Latino community she grew up in. At UCLA, she was one of five students who led a successful hunger strike in 1993 to overturn a decision to not fund a Chicano Studies program on campus. After being elected to the San Fernando City Council at the ripe age of 26, she later served as state Assemblymember, becoming the youngest person and the first Latina to ever chair the powerful Rules committee.
Those political connections would later help fuel her work at TreePeople, which shares Heal the Bay’s vision for a greener, more equitable, more sustainable greater L.A.
While Heal the Bay and TreePeople engage in a form of co-opetition, as our former Communication Director Matthew King used to put it, ”Each nonprofit works hard to differentiate itself to secure government grants, fundraising dollars and media attention, but when it comes to environmental policy in greater L.A. our two organizations are usually joined at the hip.“
The health of L.A.’s tree canopy and the health of L.A.’s ocean and watersheds are inextricably linked. What is good for trees is good for the sea. That’s why our policy teams have put their collective weight and clout over the years behind sound policy that will clean air, water and soil for generations to come in the Southland.
In 2006, then Assemblymember Montañez was the keynote speaker for Heal the Bay’s first Urban Watershed Summit at Compton College. She continued to work with Heal the Bay on various issues, playing a huge role in bringing the Measure W coalition to victory in 2018. The Safe Clean Water Program now provides nearly $300 million in public funds for increased stormwater capture and reuse throughout the region.
While her political savvy in the corridors of power drove victories like these, her deep connection to her family’s immigrant experience underpinned all her success.
“She’s selfless, it’s never about Cindy. It’s always about the greater objective,” Mark Gold, former CEO and President of Heal the Bay, said shortly before her death. “She really wants to make a difference in the community. She knows that improving the environment is improving the quality of life for the community she cares about.”
Recently, the Los Angeles City Council honored Cindy for her lifetime achievements and her many roles and impacts of influence and action.
Summer is officially here – the peak season for swimming outdoors. Heal the Bay releases its annual scientific reports on bacterial-pollution rankings for hundreds of beaches in California and dozens of freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County.
For more than 30 years, Heal the Bay has assigned annual “A-to-F” letter grades for 700 beaches from Washington State to Tijuana, Mexico including 500 California beaches in the 2022-2023 report, based on levels of fecal-indicator bacterial pollution in the ocean measured by County health agencies. In addition, since 2017, the organization has ranked freshwater quality, releasing report grades for 35 freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County for summer 2022 in its fifth annual River Report Card. The public can check out the updated water quality of their local freshwater recreation areas at healthebay.org/riverreportcard and ocean beaches at beachreportcard.org or by downloading the app on their smartphone.
BEACH REPORT CARD HIGHLIGHTS
The good news is 95% of the California beaches assessed by Heal the Bay received an A or B grade during summer 2022, which is on par with the average.
Even so, Heal the Bay 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 poor water quality following a rain event. More rain typically means that increased amounts of pollutants, including bacteria, are flushed through storm drains and rivers into the ocean. Sewage spills pose increased health risks and trigger immediate beach closures, which should be heeded until public officials clear the area. Last year an astounding 45 million gallons of sewage were spilled and made their way to California beaches. Only 56% of California beaches had good or excellent grades during wet weather, which was worse than average, and very concerning.
“As climate change continues to bring weather whiplash, our water woes will swing from scarcity to pollution. This year, record precipitation produced major impacts on water quality across Coastal California,” said Tracy Quinn, President and CEO of Heal the Bay. “Now more than ever, we must prioritize multi-benefit projects to manage stormwater as both a water quality and supply solution, all while ensuring that the public is kept informed of risks to public health.”
Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card and River Report Card provide access to the latest water quality information and are a critical part of our science-based advocacy work in support of strong environmental policies that protect public health.
Heal the Bay’s Beach Bummer List ranks the most polluted beaches in California based on levels of harmful bacteria in the ocean. The 2022-2023 Beach Bummer List includes beaches in Los Angeles, San Mateo, San Diego, and Orange Counties as well as the Tijuana Area. This year, Santa Monica Pier and Playa Blanca in Tijuana tied for the top spot as both faced significant water quality challenges.
1-2. Playa Blanca, Tijuana Area
1-2. Santa Monica Pier, LA County
3. Linda Mar Beach, San Mateo County
4. Marlin Park, San Mateo County
5. Erckenbrack Park, San Mateo County
6. Tijuana River Mouth, San Diego County
7. Pillar Point Harbor, San Mateo County
8. Marina del Rey Mother’s Beach, LA County
9. Poche Beach, Orange County
10. Gull Park, San Mateo County
BEACH HONOR ROLL LIST
This year, only two out of over 500 monitored beaches made it on the Honor Roll compared to 51 last year. Unfortunately, the unprecedented amount of rain that fell across California during the 2022–2023 winter led to an enormous dip in water quality and a very short Honor Roll list. The Honor Roll is typically dominated by Southern California beaches, in part, because many Northern and Central California Counties do not monitor beach water quality year-round. However, it appears that the wet weather from this past winter took its toll everywhere.
Point Loma, Lighthouse, San Diego
Bean Hollow State Beach, San Mateo
The record rainfall impacted the Honor Roll list in two ways: 1) fewer beaches received Winter Dry Grades because most of the winter data was collected during wet weather, and 2) increased precipitation negatively impacts water quality. In order to get on the Honor Roll, a beach must have zero bacterial exceedances all year under all conditions, which is extremely difficult to do with so much rainfall. The unsettlingly short Honor Roll was also impacted by our inability to grade one third of San Diego County’s beaches, which usually comprise a large portion of the Honor Roll (15 in the last report). in 2022 San Diego agencies began using a new testing method for bacterial pollution at nearly a third of beaches in the County, which is unfortunately not yet compatible with our grading methods in the Beach Report Card. Find out why we couldn’t grade nearly a third of San Diego beaches in the full report.
RIVER REPORT CARD HIGHLIGHTS
Heal the Bay graded 35 freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County within the L.A. River, San Gabriel River, and Malibu Creek Watersheds during summer 2022. Across all 35 sites and all dates graded throughout summer 2022, 65% of grades were Green (indicating no water quality health risks); 15% were Yellow (moderate health risk), and 19% were Red (high health risk). This was an improvement from the previous year.
We are thrilled to be debuting a new method for grading freshwater quality in summer 2023 in our weekly grades that are online. The method was developed with the help of a team of water quality experts and will use the same letter grading system (A-F) as the Beach Report Card to improve user experience and reflect the latest science.
“Our River Report Card identifies a disturbing trend between development and water quality. The natural areas in our watersheds, rivers and streams with muddy or sandy bottoms and ample flora, typically have the best water quality and are the safest for the public. In contrast, heavily developed areas, waterways encased with concrete (including within the L.A. River channel) and stormdrain inputs, tend to have lower water quality. We recommend checking out the River Report Card before heading out to the L.A. River because bacteria levels are often at unsafe levels and you can find a safer spot for cooling off,” said Dr. Alison Xunyi Wu, Water Quality Data Specialist and co-author of the River Report Card and Beach Report Card.
Avoid shallow, enclosed beaches with poor water circulation.
Swim at least 100 yards away from flowing storm drains, creeks, and piers.
Stay out of the water for at least 72-hours after a rain event.
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.
Stay in the know! This year, the annual reports received state and national coverage – appearing in the New York Times, LA Times, and Associated Press.
ACCESS TO WATER RECREATION
The COVID-19 pandemic, record-setting wildfire seasons, and extreme heat have compounded the already dire need for equity in our recreational 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, socioeconomic disparities, and limited access to safe, healthy, and clean water recreation. Heal the Bay is committed to expanding the user base of our Beach Report Card and River Report Card. We have started by working with local community-based organizations that are taking down barriers to water recreation for communities of color. Through this work, we will amplify what “safe, healthy, and clean access to water recreation” means in the communities where it is needed the most.
About Heal the Bay: Heal the Bay is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1985. They use science, education, community action, and advocacy to fulfill their mission to protect coastal waters and watersheds in Southern California with a particular focus on public health, climate change, biodiversity, and environmental justice. 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 or watch this short video.
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 more than 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 Apple and Android devices. The Beach Report Card is made possible through generous support from SIMA Environmental Fund, 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 exists 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 supported by Environment Now.
After a decade of volunteer surveys and scientific review, we now know that Marine Protected Areas are working, but inclusivity and climate resiliency must be considered to ensure the full benefits of these precious sanctuaries for all.
Nearly 24 years ago, the state of California passed the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), forever changing the course of marine conservation in our coastal state. Following an arduous community centered process, California established a globally recognized network of 124 marine protected areas, or MPAs. These MPAs, which run up and down our nearly 1,000-mile coastline in varying degrees of protection, limit certain consumptive human behaviors like fishing and collecting tidepool animals in an effort to protect and restore biodiversity and coastal resources.
(Above) Heal the Bay Marine Protected Area Watch Volunteers completing MPA Survey Training at Point Dume, California.
After California instituted these Marine Protected Areas, there was an immediate need to establish a successful management program and a system to refine or adapt MPA Network over time based on both ecosystem and human data. The state built an adaptive management program, requiring a review of our MPA network every ten years.
Now, a decade after the final MPA was put into place, the very first California MPA Decadal Management Review (DMR) is underway. Led by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and California Fish and Game Commission (FGC), this review process looks at the four managing pillars of MPAs: research and monitoring, education and outreach, policy and permitting, and enforcement and compliance. For more info on the DMR process, check out our blog from last year.
How is this highly anticipated Decadal Management Review going? In mid-March, Heal the Bay’s MPA team traveled to Monterey along with activists, researchers, Tribal members, Tribal elders, enforcement officers, anglers, and community members to attend three days of MPA management review. We heard from MPA managers, Fish and Game Commissioners, Indigenous leaders, scientists, and many others through a series of meetings, panels, and open forums.
Here are our top four take-aways from California’s FIRST MPA Decadal Review thus far:
California’s MPAs are working. Long-term monitoring shows that, at least for highly fished species in certain areas, MPAs are supporting larger and more abundant fish compared to reference sites that are not protected. Further, modeling across the central coast showed connectivity and spillover, indicating that MPAs are behaving as designed (i.e., as a network) and that benefits are seen even outside and across MPAs. While there is still much more research to be done, these initial results are incredibly promising, and we expect these positive outcomes to increase with time.
Indigenous people must be elevated to MPA leadership positions. The Indigenous nations of our coastline have been and continue to be the original stewards of this land. They have cared for coastal ecosystems since time immemorial and their knowledge and perspectives are necessary components in managing and evaluating our MPAs. Unfortunately, Indigenous nations and people were largely excluded from the original MPA designation process. Heal the Bay supports the requests made by Tribal members for expanded access to the coastline and to be elevated to positions of leadership within the MPA management system. Access to the coast and all it has to offer must be expanded for all Indigenous people.
Future MPA management MUST prioritize climate resiliency. We are in the midst of unprecedented climate disruption, not only on land but in our marine and coastal ecosystems. California’s network of MPAs presents a unique opportunity to evaluate the climate resiliency potential of MPAs against climate stressors like increased temperature, increased acidity, rising sea levels, changing tides and storm surges, increased erosion, and decreased oxygen. Heal the Bay would like to see the future of MPA monitoring include climate resilience metrics.
MPA monitoring and research needs to broaden in scope. While the level of MPA research that has been conducted over the past 10 years is nothing short of impressive, there are areas where the state can do so much more. For example, long-term monitoring of MPAs should utilize innovative research tools like environmental DNA (eDNA) to measure biodiversity trends in space and time. Analysis of biological data must be expanded to compare the different types of MPAs in the network to assess how effective different levels of protection are. Finally, there are opportunities and a need to better analyze compliance, or how well people are following MPA regulations, to give us the full picture of MPA effectiveness. Heal the Bay is advocating for these expanded monitoring priorities to improve our understanding and management of MPAs overall.
(Above) Emily Parker, Coastal and Marine Scientist, and Crystal Barajas, Senior Community Science & Outreach Coordinator, represented Heal the Bay at the March 2023 Decadal Management Review Forum in Monterey, California.
At the meetings in Monterey, Heal the Bay advocated for the inclusion of Indigenous leadership, the prioritization of climate resiliency, and the broadening of MPA research in an oral testimony to the FGC Marine Resources Committee and submitted these suggestions via a written comment letter. We will continue this advocacy in future FGC meetings and as we meet with agencies, collaborate with partners and stakeholders, and engage the public.
California’s network of MPAs is still young. It will take more time and improved protection and management to see the maximum benefit for biodiversity. To see those benefits, the MPA network must remain intact and protections must, at the very least, remain as strong as they currently are. This first glimpse of our MPA,s success is incredibly exciting, and we can’t wait to see what 10 more years of MPAs bring.
Heal the Bay thrives because of our amazing volunteers. We are only able to celebrate those achievements because of the time, dedication, and support that our volunteers so graciously donate.
Each and every volunteer is instrumental to the success of our organization whether educating the public, reaching out to communities, aiding in aquarium care, or picking up plastic at the beach. Volunteer passion for the environment through selfless dedication is the ture heart and soul of Heal the Bay and drive our accomplishments toward achieving the mission to protect coastal waters and watersheds of Southern California. On March 23, 2023, we took time to celebrate our volunteers at Heal the Bay’s 33rd Annual Volunteer Appreciation Party and Award Ceremony.
Sharing our 2022 Volunteer Success:
Aquarium volunteers contributed 4,005 hours to the Heal the Bay Aquarium, supported field trips, assisted in caring for our animals, and guided visitors through the experience of our touch tanks.
MPA Watch volunteers conducted 489 surveys in 2022 to monitor human activity in the Palos Verdes and Malibu Marine Protected Area sites.
Thousands of volunteers picked up trash from the greater L.A.’s shorelines and neighborhoods last year. On Coastal Cleanup Day, 4,583 volunteers removed more than 11,298 lbs. of trash and 313 lbs. of recyclables from our waterways and neighborhoods.
Our Key Stone Award Winners
The Jean Howell Award and the Bob Hertz Award are Heal the Bay’s lifetime achievement awards. This years award winners, like any keystone, have become central to the success of many Heal the Bay programs. A special thank you to our 2023 awardees.
Tim Cheung – Jean Howell Award
Tim began volunteering with Heal the Bay in 2017. Through the years, Tim has been instrumental to the Beach Captains team for Nothin’ But Sand and Heal the Bay public cleanup programs. In the past, Tim represented Heal the Bay at tabling events in the community and helped spread our virtual Knowledge Drop education series at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tim brings a strong sense of community to each cleanup and ensuring all team members feel informed and involved along the way, commanding the attention of our cleanup volunteers at Nothin’ But Sand every month, ensuring a safe cleanup. At the end of the cleanup, Tim leads the charge, weighing the trash and transporting large items to the dumpster, often by himself. There is no task Tim isn’t willing to do.
John Wells – Jean Howell Award
Since joining Heal the Bay’s MPA Watch Program in February 2020, John has conducted more than 385 MPA Watch surveys. His surveys alone account for more than 25% of the submitted surveys on behalf of Heal the Bay’s MPA Watch program. John’s increased resolution in our data came during an exceptional need to record unprecedented changes in human recreational and consumptive behavior in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. John was awarded the MPA Watch Super Healer award in 2020 and his dedication to Heal the Bay has only grown stronger, serving as an active volunteer, a Beach Captain at monthly NBS beach clean-ups, Suits on the Sand events, and at Heal the Bay’s Coastal Cleanup Day in 2022. John’s contributions are invaluable
John Reyes – Bob Hertz Award
John Reyes attends every Heal the Bay volunteer opportunity. There isn’t a cleanup program or Heal the Bay event that John is not involved. Since 2018, John has captained Coastal Cleanup Day sites in Dockweiler State Beach and even organized his own Adopt-A-Beach team, “the Beach Reacher’s”, to clean up would-be marine debris from L.A.’s inland watershed. John is always one of the first volunteers to sign up to support special Heal the Bay events such as the Trash Bowl and Golf Open. Even during the rainy seasons John joins our Storm Response cleanup efforts. His leadership at Nothin But Sand Cleanups are instrumental and he has volunteered at over 100 Suits on the Sand cleanups. The current Beach Programs team wishes to express the greatest gratitude for John’s dedication and outstanding support.
Celebrating our Super Healers
All Heal the Bay volunteers are wavemakers, but some go above and beyond. We are especially proud to recognize the following outstanding individuals with the 2022 Super Healer Awards:
Sharon Lawrence – Development Super Healer
Actress, philanthropist, and leader Sharon Lawrence is known to most as the multiple Primetime Emmy-nominated and SAG Award-winning actress from hit shows like NYPD Blue, Grey’s Anatomy, Monk, Law and Order: SVU, Rizzoli & Isles, and Curb Your Enthusiasm (among many others). She has also been a change-maker at Heal the Bay for more than a decade, working tirelessly wherever she is needed, serving most recently as Chair of the Heal the Bay Board of Directors. Always the advocate for Heal the Bay, Sharon uses her voice and passionate influence to raise unquantifiable amounts of support and donations that have helped fund some of our most important science, policy, and outreach programs. A wavemaker like Sharon is truly one in a million.
Amalfi Estates (Anthony Marguleas) – Corporate Super Healer
Anthony Marguleas of Amalfi Estates often notes: “we are a philanthropic company that excels at selling real estate. Alongside our commitment to our clients stands our commitment to our community.” Every year the Amalfi team donates 10% of their commissions to Heal the Bay among six L.A. charities. Their mighty team of 10 works enthusiastically to support local nonprofits donating more than $2 million since 2015.In just the past two years, nearly $35,000 has benefited Heal the Bay. When it comes to corporate responsibility, Amalfi Estates leads by example, setting the standard for what organizational-wide philanthropy can look like in the 21st century.
Andrea Martina Isenchmid – Communications Super Healer
Andrea is an actress, filmmaker, and artist, but we all know and love her as one of our most dedicated Beach Captains and Speakers. She has been a Heal the Bay volunteer for many years, inspiring countless attendees at our Nothin’ But Sand Beach Cleanups with her energizing educational safety talks. Rain or shine Andrea is always ready to help setup at the beach and a reliable amplifier promoting Heal the Bay’s messaging and advocacy through social media often serving as impromptu social media photographer for the Communications team. This year, Andrea furthered her passion for Heal the Bay’s mission with the completion on “Marina the Mermaid”. the single-use plastic recycle. This 6-foot-tall recycled mannequin is adorned with pounds of items collected during Nothin’ But Sand Cleanups and her own self-cleanups. Her artwork will be on display during the entirety of Earth Month this April at the Heal the Bay Aquarium to raise environmental awareness.
Celina Banuelos – Public Programs Super Healer
Celina is a real Ocean Hero, dedicating extensive time and effort to interpreting marine life for the public at the Heal the Bay Aquarium. She has helped countless visitors interact with ocean creatures for the first time at the Aquarium while exercising unwavering advocacy for the animals that live in Santa Monica Bay. Celina inspires people to connect with the ocean. We are so grateful to you, Celina, for all that you have done!
Hannah Benharash – Public Programs Super Healer
Hannah is a Heal the Bay regular and is always open to new experiences. Whether breaking down birthday parties or interpreting at the touch tanks on busy weekends, Hannah has made our aquarium programs unforgettable. Hannah is not only enthusiastic and dedicated but also extremely well-known for their unmatched button-making skills! We are grateful to Hannah for always coming to our rescue at the Heal the Bay Aquarium when it is needed the most.
Sophia Sorady – Public Programs Super Healer
Sophia is a Wave Maker who has inspired her peers to take action in support of environmentalism. An amazing advocacy teacher for all our new public programs volunteers, Sophia dedicated time to the Aquarium by ensuring guests responsibly interacting with our animals. . Sophia is a kindhearted leader with compassion for the ocean, and we are proud to have her on our team.
Ren Capati – Public Programs Super Healer
Ren is a stellar Public Programs volunteer. Extremely knowledgeable, dependable, and always curious, Ron has been volunteering with the Public Programs team for more years than some senior staff members! We love talking with Ren about discoveries in marine science, and are grateful for Ren’s infectious passion as part of the Heal the Bay team!
Jim Mckenzie – Aquarist Super Healer
Jim has been volunteering with the Aquarium Operations department for the past two years and is an invaluable member of our team. Jim’s curiosity and dedication to protecting our environment shines through in all the work he does with Heal the Bay. From helping keep exhibits squeaky clean to spending time out on the sand supporting a beach cleanup, Jim has done it all. He is easily our best and most reliable first mate on Dorothy for kelp collections and overall incredible support to have at the Heal the Bay Aquarium. We’re so honored to have Jim be part of our team!
Russell Blakely – Super Healer
Russell first volunteered with Heal the Bay in 2021, as a Beach Captain to help clean coastal areas. Russell is a tireless hero of our Nothin’ But Sand cleanups; always working and giving his all. Recently, Russell has developed into one of our leading Corporate Outreach volunteers, helping at Suits on the Sand cleanups, and on more than one occasion assisting at TWO cleanups in ONE day. Russell is our Suits on the Sand superstar.
Brant Kim – Super Healer
Brant started as a Beach Captain in 2022 and has exhibited multitalented capabilities of leading any station. Exceptionally helpful with uplifting all our new digital initiatives at our cleanups, such as the electronic check-in, waiver check, and DEI survey, Brant’s commitment to community outreach streamlines Heal the Bay’s Beach Program initiatives.
Alice Pak – Super Healer
Alice began volunteering with Heal the Bay in 2022 and has been an excellent addition to the Beach Captains team. Alice hit the sand running, quickly optimizing our Nothin’ But Sand event procedures, most importantly, our registration booth protocols. With Alice at the registration desk the Beach Programs volunteer teams are able to check-in 300 attendees in an hour or less. In addition to serving as a teacher on the sand for other volunteers, Alice is one of our most dependable Beach Captains.
David Eddy -Super Healer & Keystone Starfish
David started volunteering his data analysis skills to Heal the Bay in 2020. In the past, he helped our water quality scientists assess dissolved oxygen levels in the Channel Islands Harbor, painting an impressive overview of the data through visuals and a results overview video. This year, David has started volunteering his time and expertise to help the Beach Programs team revive the marine debris database, integrating our historic data with current datasets, and helping Heal the Bay bring our historic marine debris database into a modern, accessible format. Thank you for making that dream a reality!
Tasha Kolokotrones – Science Super Healer
Tasha Kolokotrones has been an MPA Watch volunteer with Heal the Bay since 2021. Inspired by a love of the outdoors, Tasha has conducted more than 50 MPA watch surveys earning honorable mention as one our most active MPA Watch volunteers. In 2022, Tasha submitted more surveys than 90% of our other program volunteers. Thanks to Tasha, our Marine Protected Area in Palos Verdes had consistent MPA Watch monitoring in 2022, an accomplishment all on its own!
California’s major infrastructure was built in the 20th century, but neither our laws nor conveyance systems were designed to address the challenges faced by climate change in the 21st century. Here’s everything you need to know about that infrastructure from the Heal the Bay Climate Action Team in Part 3 of our 3-part series, Commit to Conservation.
In past blogs, we’ve broken down the drivers behind the California drought and types of actions that make a real difference as we work to close the large and growing gap between the water we use and the water made available by nature. Even with the recent deluge of snow, torrential rains, and resulting flooding, precipitation was insufficient in permanently reversing the drought. The good news is that we have the technology we need for reliable drinking water and Heal the Bay is actively championing projects that will move us toward a more resilient and equitable future.
Water systems in California were designed based on historic patterns of precipitation that are being altered by climate change, but the primary cause of water scarcity in our region is not climate – it’s governance. Rights to our State’s water supply go all the way back to the 19th century, and our major infrastructure was built in the 20th century, and neither our laws nor conveyance systems were designed to address the challenges faced by climate change in the 21st century. The good news is that the potential for bolstering local water sources and supply in Southern California is enormous, and there are already plans and policies underway to make Los Angeles more resilient! And we believe in the idea of a “One Water” approach, which prioritizes investments in demand management and new supplies based on reliability, affordability, equity, public health, and environmental impacts.
ACHIEVING WATER RESILIENCY THROUGH CONSERVATION AND EFFICIENCY
Conservation and efficiency are two important tools when considering water use in a time of drought.
Conservation involves the conscious choice to change an action, like watering your lawn only one day a week instead of every day. While efficiency means taking the same actions as before but using less water (usually with the help of technology), for example, adding water-efficient showerheads to your bathrooms.
We talk a lot about water conservation and efficiency as strategies that the people of Los Angeles can take to help ensure that every on California can have access to safe clean water as that need increases. Reducing demand is often the cheapest and fastest way to close the large and growing gap between supply and demand. Saving water also helps save energy. In fact, a study by UC Davis revealed that during the 2015 drought, Californians saved more energy through water savings than all the energy efficiency programs combined. And when individuals actively choose to use less water, it makes a remarkable difference in water availability for everyone. Technology already exists that could save up to 1 trillion gallons a year statewide and the greatest potential for water savings exists right here in the South Coast Region, owing in part to the sheer potential of people (9.86 million in LA County alone) who could improve their water efficiency. To help encourage communities to use water more efficiently, the State Water Resources Control Board is working on a rulemaking to establish unique water efficiency budgets for each urban water supplier in California under a broader water resilience framework to “Make Conservation a California Way of Life”.
1) Water efficiency rebate programs that are often not accessible to low-income households because they require customers to purchase new appliances first and then wait several weeks (or more) for a rebate;
2) Water supplier revenues tied to how much water they sell, so there is a disincentive to invest in programs that reduce sales, and
3) Water suppliers won’t pay nearly as much for saved water as they will for new water.
Heal the Bay and our partners are working with our local water suppliers to implement solutions to these challenges, including:
Improving access to water efficiency programs by advocating for state and federal funding for programs that provide direct installation of new plumbing fixtures, appliances, and landscapes for income qualifying customers.
Advocating for water agencies to adopt water rates that incentivize improved efficiency while also allowing water suppliers to recover fixed costs, like the budget-based rates used by Irvine Ranch Water District and Western Municipal Water District.
Increasing the return on investment by advocating for water agencies to leverage the energy savings embedded in water savings to co-fund rebate programs with energy utilities.
CAPTURING STORMWATER – Waste Not, Want Not
Unlike wastewater, most stormwater in Los Angeles is not treated nor cleaned before it reaches our rivers and ocean. Our current stormwater infrastructure was built to protect against flooding, but when rain comes, the first flush of water from urbanized areas sweeps up trash and other contaminants which flow through our storm drains, dumping polluted water directly into our waterways, beaches, and ocean. Capturing LA’s rainwater offers opportunities to improve water quality in rivers and the ocean and at least triple the amount of stormwater captured for water supply (currently around 33 billion gallons per year).
The architects of the archaic system could not have foreseen the impacts of accommodating large population increases and ensuing development let alone a future of climate change and drought. They viewed water through a very different lens as something to control because it was a flooding danger rather than an integral resource and the lifeblood of ecosystems. Since 1985, Heal the Bay has seen first-hand the symptoms and impacts of stormwater contamination on our beaches and ocean as our volunteers and staff pick up thousands of pounds of trash each year. In fact, our Beach Report Card predictably downgrades our beaches after each rainstorm, and therefore, swimmers should consider staying out of coastal waters for at least 3 days after a rain event.
If we utilize natural solutions for stormwater capture, we could get even more benefits like carbon sequestration, cooler temperatures, recreational opportunities, and so much more. Heal the Bay works with the LA Regional Water Quality Control Board to track action under the Regional Stormwater Permit and has also engaged with a local dedicated source of funding as Watershed Coordinators for the Safe, Clean Water Program. One good example of this is our project at Inell-Woods Park, which will be located in South Los Angeles, in a neighborhood that lacks green space within the Compton Creek Watershed. The objective is to use native plants to reduce long-term potable water requirements and capture and treat stormwater to irrigate the park.
Stormwater Capture Projects: a) The Oxford Retention Basin Regional Stormwater Capture Project, b) The Ladera Park Stormwater Improvements Project, c) a rain garden in The Elmer Avenue Neighborhood Retrofit Project. Photos by Annelisa Moe/Heal the Bay.
SUSTAINABLE GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT – A Huge Underutilized Opportunity
One element you need for successful stormwater infiltration projects is clean groundwater. Here in the Los Angeles area, groundwater reservoirs offer vast natural water storage potential. And while they are heavily regulated to avoid over-pumping, much of this water is contaminated from historical industrial pollution. So, in recent years, groundwater has only made up about 10% of local water supply. Groundwater remediation, therefore, offers removal of pollution that is currently underlying communities, a boost for subsurface ecosystem health, and an increase in local water supply, as long as these stores are also regularly refilled by other local water sources. Across LA County, there are roughly 5.8 billion gallons of available unused groundwater storage space where we can store recycled wastewater and captured stormwater for future use; and if we do not use this storage space, the ground could compact, actually removing that storage potential.
In addition to some groundwater being polluted, we also have aquifers that are salty. Desalination can be used to clean up salty groundwater, and that process is safer, less expensive, and less energy intensive than ocean water desalination. It also provides multiple benefits by removing salt from our groundwater and providing water supply.
SAFE WASTEWATER RECYCLING – Rinse and Repeat
Treated wastewater (water used indoors that gets cleaned to a high standard at a wastewater treatment facility) has traditionally been discharged to the ocean or rivers, which is a hugely missed opportunity because that water can be used again to reduce our dependence on imported drinking water. We currently reuse some of this water indirectly to recharge groundwater reservoirs, or directly for irrigation through the purple pipe system or recycled water fill stations, but we could be using more. In fact, California is finalizing regulations to allow for direct potable reuse, defined by the EPA as a “water recycling method that involves the treatment and distribution of water without an environmental buffer”. Although the concept has received some non-scientific skepticism along the way, it is actually very safe and is already in use around the world and even here in Southern California. Orange County’s Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) is the world’s largest purification system providing treated water to near-distilled quality that is then piped to a location where it naturally seeps into a groundwater basin that provides about 70% of the potable water needs for 2.4 million OC residents.
Skeptical about drinking recycled water? Fun fact: Half of all water systems that serve more than 10,000 people provide de facto recycled water, or water that includes wastewater that was discharged from an upstream source. Purified recycled water is actually much cleaner than most supplies because of the extensive treatment and purification process that takes place at these advanced treatment facilities.
Many facilities in Southern California are already preparing their facilities to include direct potable reuse as a means to increase the use of recycled wastewater, including the Metropolitan Water District Pure Water Southern California Project, the Las Virgenes-Triunfo Pure Water Project, the City of Ventura Water Pure Project, and the City of LA’s Hyperion 2035 Project. Though it will take time and funding for these facilities to be fully operational, Heal the Bay has already visited some demonstration facilities as we continue to advocate for smart policies that ensure high quality water, as well as environmentally safe and sustainable practices.
The Las Virgenes-Triunfo Demonstration Facility turns wastewater into highly purified water that exceeds federal and state drinking water standards in 3 very high-tech steps: 1) Membrane Filtration, 2) Reverse Osmosis, and 3) Advanced Oxidation. At the end of the Demonstration Facility tour, guests can taste test the final product. Photos by Annelisa Moe/Heal the Bay.
DESALINATION – The Option of Last Resort
We regularly receive questions about the possibility of desalination. Click here to read 5 reasons to be wary of desalination. The takeaway is that it is extremely expensive, energy intensive, and environmentally harmful and should only be used when all other options have been exhausted.
SECURING LA’S WATER FUTURE
With limited resources to counter the myriad impacts of the climate crisis, we must prioritize cost-effective projects that maximize local water and offer multiple benefits to support thriving communities and ecosystems. With better access to water efficiency programs, a multi-benefit stormwater capture network, sustainable groundwater management, and increased use of safe water recycling, we can reduce our reliance on imported water.
Successful water resiliency work requires bringing together the variety of water agencies and governmental departments to work collaboratively for the shared benefits not only for the future of the Southlands but for California water resilience, as a whole. For two years, Heal the Bay has led this conversation by hosting a “One Water” symposium attended by water agency leaders that serves to drive momentum toward collaborative solutions for these major infrastructure projects. You can take part in Heal the Bay’s work as we continue to track all of these efforts and advocate for a holistic One Water approach to build a resilient water future for LA.
Written by the Heal the Bay Science and Policy Department in Collaboration with the Climate Action Team. Leading a dynamic team of scientists, policy experts, outreach specialists, educators, and advocates in pursuit of its clean water mission.
Join community scientists in California to observe and document the King Tides on January 22, 2023. This extreme high tide event provides a glimpse of what we face with climate-driven sea level rise. Your images will contribute to a better understanding of how to adapt to and combat the climate crisis.Get a glimpse of last winter’s King Tide.
UPDATED JANUARY 5, 2023
Capture the King Tide this January
King Tides are an exceptionally large wave phenomenon that can only be witnessed a few times a year. These massive waves only come to shore when the moon is closest to the Earth and can teach California so much about the changing coastline, if their impact can be captured.
Thank you to everyone who helped us document the King Tide in December. Your images and observations will lead to a better understanding of the effects of sea level rise on California’s coast.
This January, Heal the Bay is calling on all local beach lovers to hit the sand once again to help us document these huge waves. Taking pictures and recording this natural phenomenon can help climate scientists predict the future of Californias coastline in preparation to adapt to and combat the climate crisis. Last year your observations were vital to prepare Los Angeles for a future affected by climate change and we need your help once more.
The first King Tides event of this season will occur on January 21, 2023, at 8:10 AM, and then January 22, 2023, at 8:57 AM. Once again, we are calling all of those who love the California coast to help capture the King Tide.
Join us in January
Don’t want to face the big wave alone? Come capture the King tide with Heal the Bay and other climate community members at our either of group science events during the January phenomenon.
King Tides Science and Celebration Santa Monica, Los Angeles County
1600 Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica January 22, 2023 8:15am-10:30am Presented by Climate Action Santa Monica Join Heal the Bay and Climate Action Santa Monica for a gathering by the ocean to witness and document this natural phenomenon. At the precise moment of the most intense gravitational force on the ocean, help community scientists take photos of the waves and their reach, and document the impact on local infrastructure, as part of the California King Tides Project. Then head over to the Heal the Bay Aquarium for educational demonstrations to learn about the planetary forces that cause the King Tides to occur. Enjoy refreshments while you meet and mingle with other members of the climate community and learn about the effects of climate on sea levels. Come celebrate the power of the ocean and deepen your connection to nature when we Capture the King tide together. More info and register.
King Tides Science and Celebration Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles County
2 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Manhattan Beach, Ca 90266 – Base of Manhattan Beach Pier (by the bike path/clock tower area) January 22, 2023 8:30 am -9:15 am Presented by The Roundhouse Aquarium Head to The Roundhouse Aquarium Teaching Center for a King Tides community science event with Heal the Bay. Hit the beach and help document the King Tide by capturing pictures of this ocean phenomenon alongside community and climate scientists as part of the California King Tides Project. Join in the community discussion and discover the relationship between sea level rise and climate change alongside students and other climate community members.
PUBLISHED DECEMBER 13, 2021
Sea Level Rise
Before we get into the details of this year’s King Tides event, let’s begin with the larger context of sea level rise. Humans are polluting Earth’s atmosphere with greenhouse gases (GHGs) like CO2, primarily through the burning of fossil fuels, driving average global temperatures up at an unprecedented rate.
Oceans have helped to buffer this steady pollution stream by absorbing 90% of our excess heat and 25% of our CO2 emissions. This, among myriad impacts, has increased sea temperatures, causing ocean water to expand. The combination of ocean water expansion and new water input from the melting of landlocked glaciers results in rapid sea level rise.
Santa Monica Beach Current
Santa Monica Beach Sea Level Rise 2ft
Santa Monica Beach Sea Level Rise 7 Ft
Ports Current Sea Level
Ports Sea Level Rise 7ft
Marina Del Rey Current Sea Level
Marina Del Rey Sea Level Rise 7ft
Take a look at images from the NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer. Light blue shows areas expected to flood consistently as sea levels rise. Bright green shows low-lying areas vulnerable to flooding from groundwater upwelling as seawater intrusion increases.
According to the 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, sea level will rise 2 feet by 2100 even if efforts are made to lower GHG emissions, and possibly as much as 7 feet by 2100 if we continue with “business as usual” (i.e., burning fossil fuels at the current unsustainable rate). Rapid sea level rise threatens beach loss, coastal and intertidal habitat loss, seawater intrusion into our groundwater supply (which could contaminate our drinking water supply and cause inland flooding from groundwater upwelling), as well as impacts from flooding or cliff erosion on coastal infrastructures like roads, homes, businesses, power plants and sewage treatment plants—not to mention nearby toxic sites.
Here's a sea level rise problem we should all think more about: Toxic sites that could flood + expose nearby residents to dangerous chemicals.
Ocean tides on Earth are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon (and the sun, to a lesser extent) on our oceans. When the moon is closest to Earth along its elliptical orbit, and when the moon, earth, and sun are aligned, gravitational pull compounds, causing extreme high and low tides called Perigean-Spring Tides or King Tides. These extreme tides provide a glimpse of future sea level rise.
In fact, King Tides in Southern California this December and January are expected to be 2-3 feet higher than normal high tides (and lower than normal low tides), providing a clear snapshot of what the regular daily high tides will likely be by 2100.
Surfider Beach Third Point, Malibu (Photo by CA Coastal Commission)
Broad Beach, Malibu in 2016 (Photo by LA Waterkeeper)
(Top to bottom) Low, Medium, High Tides at Carbon Beach, January 8-10 2013
What is being done
Many coastal cities in California have developed Local Coastal Programs in coordination with the CA Coastal Commission to address sea level rise. The Coastal Commission is also developing new sea level rise guidance for critical infrastructure, recently released for public review. Unfortunately, if we continue with “business as usual,” the rate of sea level rise will occur much more quickly than we can adapt to it, which is why we need bold global action now to combat the climate crisis and limit sea level rise as much as possible.
What you can do
Motivated people like you can become community scientists by submitting King Tides photographs the weekend of December 23 and 24, 2022 to contribute to the digital storytelling of sea level rise. These photos are used to better understand the climate crisis, to educate people about the impacts, to catalog at-risk communities and infrastructure, and plan for mitigation and adaptation. Join the Coastal Commission in their CA King Tides Project!
Get involved in the December 23 and 24 #KingTides event
Instructions from the CA Coastal Commission: 1) Find your local high tide time for one of the King Tides dates. 2) Visit the shoreline on the coast, bay, or delta. 3) Be aware of your surroundings to ensure you are safe and are not disturbing any animals. 4) Make sure your phone’s location services are turned on for your camera and then take your photo. The best photos show the water level next to familiar landmarks such as cliffs, rocks, roads, buildings, bridge supports, sea walls, staircases, and piers. 5) Add your photo to the King Tides map either by uploading it via the website or by using the Survey123 app.
In the Los Angeles area? Here are some areas we expect will have noticeable King Tides:
In Palos Verdes, we recommend: Pelican Cove, Terrenea Beach, White Point Beach, and Point Fermin. In Malibu, we suggest: Paradise Cove, Westward Beach, Broad Beach, El Pescador State Beach, and Leo Carrillo State Beach.
Written by Annelisa Moe. As a Coastal and Marine Scientist for Heal the Bay, Annelisa works to keep our oceans and marine ecosystems healthy and clean by advocating for strong legislation and enforcement both locally and statewide. She focuses on plastic pollution, marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, and climate change related issues.
Heal the Bay sails into 2023 celebrating a host of new local legislative policy successes, including LA’s citywide polystyrene ban. But what did Californians gain as a whole in 2022 environmental policy? Take a look back at this year’s wins and losses in California state legislation with Heal the Bay Coastal and Marine Scientist Emily Parker as we embark upon another year of advocacy.
HEAL THE BAY’S Science and Policy team worked tirelessly this year and we are both celebrating some major policy wins and grieving some losses. Let’s take a closer look at what advocates and our representatives have accomplished in the fight for environmental health and justice and where Heal the Bay can eye on continuing our work through determined advocacy next year.
⭐ Highlight Reel
1. PASSED Senate Bill 54 (Allen): The Plastic Pollution Producer Responsibility Act
Central to Heal the Bay’s mission to make the coastal waters and watersheds of greater LA safe, healthy, and clean is reducing pollution at the source. Among them is single-use plastic. For four years, Heal the Bay and dozens of other advocates have worked tirelessly toward the passage of SB 54 legislation, combing through countless iterations and amendments. Thankfully the bill passed and was signed into law by Governor Newsom earlier this year. With some compromises, this bill makes huge strides in reducing California’s use and disposal of single-use products, particularly plastic. This bill:
Sets a 25% source reduction goal for single-use packaging production by 2032 and by then, 65% of single-use packaging still being produced will need to be truly recyclable or compostable.
Establishes a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) to help California reduce plastic pollution, and creates strong state government enforcement and oversight that will remove power from the PRO should they fall out of compliance.
Requires $5 billion of environmental mitigation funding from plastic producers to go toward environmental restoration and cleanup over 10-years.
2. PASSED Assembly Bill 1857 (C. Garcia): Zero Waste Transition and Incineration
Trash can take many pathways at the end of its lifecycle, and one of the most problematic and inequitable destinations is an incinerator. Incineration burns trash at extremely high temperatures, polluting the air in surrounding environmental justice communities and contributing to climate change. One of the last two incinerators in the state is located right here in LA County in Long Beach and is old, dirty, expensive, and just unnecessary. AB 1857:
Removes diversion credits for incineration, essentially deeming incineration as equivalent to landfill and disincentivizing the use of incineration as an end-of-life pathway for waste.
Funds investments into zero-waste infrastructure and programs in frontline communities most impacted by incinerators.
3. APPROVED California State Budget: Allocations for the Environment
Laws aren’t the only way to get things done politically. Our state budget plays a major role in how effectively our decision-makers combat environmental and public health crises. Through multiple pathways, the approved 2022-2023 California state budget set aside essential funding for plastic pollution reduction, climate change mitigation and adaptation, drought resilience, and toxic pollution cleanup. Here is the breakdown:
AB 179 (Ting): Budget Act of 2022 – Allocates $25M in the state budget for refillable beverage bottles.
SB 154 (Skinner): Budget Act of 2022 – Allocates $5.6M in the state budget for DDT cleanup near southern California.
$54 Billion for Climate – A record-breaking allocation, California has ear-marked this pot of funds for programs such as electric transit, wildfire risk reduction, and a whopping $3 billion for combating California’s worsening aridification. Drought funding will be used for water conservation and drought mitigation efforts, including $75 million set aside to fund turf-replacement programs such as the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s rebate program.
Other Environmental Wins
SB 1137 (Gonzalez) – Requires a 3200-foot setback between oil and gas infrastructure and sensitive receptors such as homes and schools. This bill was signed into law in August, however, a referendum has been filed to overturn it, which is currently in the signature-gathering phase. Learn more about how you can fight this. The City of LA also passed an ordinance requiring major oil extraction cessation.
AB 2638 (Bloom) – Requires water bottle refilling stations in schools for new construction or modernization.
AB 1817 (Ting) – Prohibits the manufacturing, distributing, selling, or offering for sale new textile articles that contain regulated per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are chemicals known to have harmful effects in humans and animals.
AB 1953 (Maienschein) – Would have required water refill stations in public places.While this bill was lost in assembly appropriations, it kept the ever-important conversation around the importance of reuse going in the legislature.
SB 1255 (Portantino) – Would have established the Dishwasher Grant Program for Waste Reduction in K–12 Schools to provide grants to schools for the purchase and installation of commercial dishwashers.This bill was passed by the legislature but vetoed by Governor Newsom who deemed it too expensive for the state to enact and felt that dishwashers could be purchased under existing Proposition 98 General Funds of $750M for schools to purchase and upgrade kitchen equipment
AB 2026 (Friedman) – Would have required e-commerce shippers to reduce the single-use plastic fill used to ship products (think the puffy single-use plastic in the packages you receive). This bill died in senate appropriations following hard opposition from industry.
AB 1690 (L. Rivas) – This bill was originally intended to ban harmful single-use plastic cigarette filters (butts) to reduce pollution. The language was watered down so much in scope that it was pulled by the author – we are planning another attempt next year!
SB 1036 (Newman) – Would have established the Ocean Conservation Corps to conduct ocean conservation projects and workforce development. While this bill was passed by the legislature, it was vetoed by Governor Newsom who deemed it too expensive of a program that was not accounted for in the state budget.
AB 2758 (O’Donnell) – Would have required CalEPA to conduct public meetings on the agency’s efforts to study and mitigate DDT and other chemical waste located off the coast of Los Angeles.This bill was sponsored by Heal the Bay and was lost in senate appropriations. We are exploring options to revitalize these efforts.
Crystal Ball – Looking Ahead
Heal the Bay is already preparing for a busy and productive legislative season. We are working with Senator Allen, his staff, and CalRecycle on the successful and equitable implementation of SB 54 and hoping to see some major reductions in plastic pollution off our coast. Stay tuned and follow Heal the Bay on all our channels to stay up to date on how you can be an activist and help support all our efforts, both inside and out of the Capitol!
Written by Emily Parker. As a Coastal and Marine Scientist for Heal the Bay, Emily works to keep our oceans and marine ecosystems healthy and clean by advocating for strong legislation and enforcement both locally and statewide. She focuses on plastic pollution, marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, and climate change related issues.
💥 Action Alert: We need your calls of support to pass these 5 bills before the end of the California Legislative Season.
UPDATE 09/06/2022: ALL 5 of these bills were passed! Thanks for your support in helping California protect communities and waterways. Now it’s up to Governor Newsom to sign them into law!
IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR:the end of the California Legislative season! Our state Senators and Assemblymembers have some important decisions to make over the next two weeks and we are just a few plays away from passing some innovative new laws that will help California communities battle climate change, pollution, and drought all while protecting our precious water and ocean resources. We have already had some major wins from the year, like Senate Bill 54 (Allen) passing back in June to fight plastic pollution, and losses, like Heal the Bay sponsored Assembly Bill 2758 (O’Donnell), which would have required public meetings on the DDT pollution off our coast but didn’t make it out of Senate Appropriations. However, there are still plenty of bills on the docket that need our urgent attention.
Heal the Bay has been supporting the following five bills over the past 2-year bill cycle and we have until August 31 to ensure that they are passed by the Senate & Assembly and, if they pass, until September 30 for the Governor to sign them into law. A key factor in their decision-making is the opinions of their constituents. That’s right, YOU! Let’s take a look at this year’s top contenders for environmental legislative wins and how you can help get them across the finish line:
1. AB 1832: Seabed Mining Ban (L. Rivas)
The ocean seafloor is a rich and thriving ecosystem, but around the world, that ecosystem is being threatened by seabed mining. A practice that resembles clearcutting a forest, mining the seafloor for minerals destroys habitat and wildlife leaving behind a barren seascape that grows so slowly, it may never recover. Mining also creates enormous toxic sediment plumes and noise, light, and thermal pollution that disrupt marine habitats. Following in Oregon and Washington’s footsteps, AB 1832 would ban seabed mining in California, effectively protecting the entire West Coast of the United States from this dangerous practice.
2. AB 2638: Water Bottle Refill Stations in Schools (Bloom)
Reusable water bottles are an excellent alternative to disposable plastic bottles, but they aren’t a viable solution if there is nowhere to refill them. AB 2638 would require any new construction or modernization project by a school district to include water bottle filling stations. By increasing access to safe drinking water at refill stations in schools, we can contribute to reuse and refill systems across the state, allowing our students to use reusable bottles instead of harmful disposable ones.
3. SB 1036: Ocean Conservation Corps (Newman)
For decades, the California Conservation Corps has served young adults across the state by hiring and training young adults for conservation-based service work on environmental projects. SB 1036 would expand this program and create an Ocean Conservation Corps. This bill would increase workforce development opportunities to thousands of young adults while contributing to ocean conservation projects like those currently happening at the Heal the Bay Aquarium.
4. SB 1157: Drought Resilience through Water Efficiency (Hertzberg)
California is experiencing long-term aridification, which means a hotter and drier climate, and is currently several years into the most severe drought in 1,200 years. We must ensure that California’s urban areas are not wasting water as we adapt to our changing climate. SB 1157 would update water use efficiency standards to reflect our growing need to conserve water based on best available indoor water use trends. Water efficiency is one of the cheapest, fastest, and most efficient ways we can meet long-term water needs and increase resilience in the face of the climate crisis. Saving water also saves energy, so it can help us meet our climate goals while also resulting in cheaper utility bills. That’s a win-win!
5. AB 1857: Anti-Incineration (C. Garcia)
Right now, Californians are sending their waste to incineration facilities to be burned instead of landfilled or recycled. These facilities are disproportionately located in frontline communities already overburdened by multiple pollution sources. Cities that send their waste to these toxic facilities are currently able to claim “diversion credits”, a tactic aimed at reducing waste sent to landfill and classifying incineration inappropriately in the same categories as recycling and source reduction. AB 1857 would redefine incineration as true disposal, and remove these diversion credits while also funding investments in zero-waste communities most impacted by incineration. This is a critical bill for achieving environmental justice in California and moving us away from toxic false solutions to our waste crisis.
Your representative wants to hear from you to help them vote on these bills, and your voice makes a huge difference. So, we need your help.
Hello, my name is [insert your name here] and I am a constituent of [insert the representative’s name here, e.g. Senator Stern]. I care deeply about the health and wellness of California’s natural ecosystems and am calling to ask the [Senator/Assemblymember] to vote yes on these five environmental bills: AB 1832, AB 1857, AB 2638, SB 1036, and SB 1157.
These bills will help California protect our environment and better prepare for climate change, while protecting our most vulnerable communities. As your constituent, this legislation is important to me and I urge [insert representative name] to vote yes on all of them.
Written by Emily Parker. As a Coastal and Marine Scientist for Heal the Bay, Emily works to keep our oceans and marine ecosystems healthy and clean by advocating for strong legislation and enforcement both locally and statewide. She focuses on plastic pollution, marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, and climate change related issues.
HEAL THE BAY IS ENCOURAGED to share that California has taken a major step forward in addressing the plastic pollution and waste crisis with the passage of Senate Bill 54 (SB 54) in the California State Legislature, followed by Governor Newsom signing it into law on June 30, 2022.
Reducing single-use plastics through comprehensive statewide policy is a priority for Heal the Bay. During Heal the Bay beach cleanups, 80% of the more than 4 million pieces of trash that our volunteers pick up is made from single-use plastics. In our ocean and rivers, plastic waste poses a significant threat to animals, leaching harmful chemicals into their bodies or even blocking their digestive tract, leading to starvation and malnourishment. The plastic pollution can even transfer up the food chain ultimately passing the toxins on to us.
SB 54, authored by Senator Ben Allen, establishes a producer responsibility scheme to hold plastic industries accountable for the waste they produce. We look forward to working with Senator Allen on the implementation of SB 54, and with our environmental justice partners to ensure low-income communities and communities of color don’t bear additional burdens. Pollution from the full lifecycle of plastics, which are derived from fossil fuels, already harms communities of color disproportionately. This pollution can lead to health impacts such as asthma, respiratory illness, headaches, fatigue, nosebleeds, and even cancer.
“Heal the Bay envisions a solution that moves us entirely away from single-use materials, especially plastics, and focuses on reuse and refill instead. Even though recycling is an important part of this process, we cannot recycle our way out — nor can we use dangerous chemical recycling methods that dispose of plastics in our air. We will continue to push hard, alongside other environmental and community-based organizations and advocates, to ensure the producer responsibility program established by SB 54 prioritizes reuse and refill,” said Tracy Quinn, Heal the Bay CEO and President.
The passing of this legislation ultimately means the California Recycling and Plastics Pollution Reduction Act Initiative, which was supposed to be on the November 2022 ballot, will be pulled. While we were thrilled to give California voters the opportunity to make this decision, our California legislature has incorporated many of the requirements and solutions laid out in the plastic ballot measure. The momentum of the plastic ballot measure brought industry to the table to make real commitments, and we are going to hold them to it.
What’s included in SB 54:
Sets a 25% source reduction goal for single-use packaging production by 2032. And by then, 65% of single-use packaging still being produced will need to be truly recyclable or compostable
Establishes a producer responsibility scheme through the formation of a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) to help California reduce plastic pollution, and creates strong state government enforcement and oversight that will remove power from the PRO should they fall out of compliance
Requires $5 billion of environmental mitigation funding from plastic producers to go toward environmental restoration and cleanup over 10-years
What needs to be improved upon in the legislation:
Does not outright ban polystyrene, rather it sets recycling rates of 25% by 2025 with the material being banned if this rate cannot be met
Allows for post-consumer recycled content (recycled plastic that is used in a new product) to count toward source reduction goal
Heal the Bay thanks Senator Allen and the bill’s co-authors Senators Becker, Gonzalez, Hertzberg, Kamlager, Skinner, Stern, and Wiener for championing SB 54. A huge thank you to Assemblymember Luz Rivas who advocated for important amendments. With the passage of SB 54, we look forward to experiencing less plastic pollution in our communities and environments and seeing a decrease in public health risks in the years to come.
At Heal the Bay we love our volunteers to the moon and back! After a two-year pandemic hiatus, we could not wait to celebrate those individuals that give so much to Heal the Bay with an out-of-this-world party at the Heal the Bay Aquarium.
The Heal the Bay 32nd Annual Volunteer Appreciation Party
Our volunteers are the rocket fuel that allows Heal the Bay to shoot for the stars when it comes to educating the public, local outreach, aquarium care, making an environmental impact, and everything in between. Amid a global pandemic, their dedication, passion, and love for our environment are the heart that kept and keep us going. We are only able to celebrate so many successes because of the time, dedication, and support our volunteers so graciously donate.
Our 2021 Volunteer Accomplishments include:
· Over 1793 hours of Aquarium volunteers hours contributed in 2021 as they interpreted at touch tanks, supported field trips, and assisted in caring for our animals.
· Our MPA Watch volunteers conducted dozens of surveys in 2021 to monitor use in the Palos Verdes and Malibu MPA sites.
· Heal the Bay continued our legacy of community commitment by enriching the lives of thousands of LA County residents through our Speakers Bureau program.
· Thousands of volunteers helped picked up trash from the greater L.A’s shorelines and neighborhoods last year. On Coastal Cleanup Day, we had 2,735 volunteers remove more than 5,051 lbs of trash from our waterways and neighborhoods.
Thank you again Heal the Bay Volunteers!
Our star-studded party sponsors
We’d also like to take a moment to acknowledge our party Sponsors who supplied the raffle prizes and amazing refreshments that kept the party going.
Our stellar snacks, wraps, and sandwicheswere provided by our lunch caterer Good Heart Catering. The out-of-this-world donuts were donated by DKs Donuts, while Starbucks and Pacific Park donated some space-tacular raffle prizes.
Taking A Moment to Honor our Superstars
And of course, where would we be without our stellar 2021 Super Healers? These are our most dedicated volunteers, who continually go above and beyond the call of duty.
Their commitment is commendable, their dedication and passion for protecting water quality and the environment undeniable.
We’re proud to honor the following outstanding individuals with the prestigious 2021 Super Healer Award:
Justin Green -2021 Super Healer
Justin is a Santa Monica local who grew up coming to the aquarium for field trips. He’s always loved the Ocean and volunteering has only strengthened that bond. Justin even aspires to be a future aquarist! He has been volunteering at the aquarium for two years with both the Public Programs team and Aquarist Operations. His dedication and fearless drive to dive in headfirst wherever he is needed make so many programs possible and we are very honored he is part of our Heal the Bay Aquarium family.
Ian Brown -2021 Super Healer
Ian has grown up visiting the Aquarium (even hosting one of his childhood birthday parties here), and has been volunteering at the Aquarium for the past two years starting with our Public Programs, and later joining our Aquarist Operations. Ian’s dedication to education is truly inspiring and he is always researching new marine science facts to share with the public. The Aquarium team is always learning something new every time Ian volunteers. We are so thankful to Ian for all of his dedicated service, and for inspiring our visitors to get as excited and passionate as he is about the marine environment, and protecting what we all love.
Crystal Sandoval -2021 Super Healer
Crystal has been volunteering/interning within the Education Department for many years now. We’ve seen her learn and grow both within her capacities within our department, and also personally. She is constantly growing and is more than willing to go above and beyond for us. We cannot wait to see what else she will accomplish!
John Wells – 2021 Super Healer
Our MPA Watch program, which collects data on the human use of our local marine protected areas, would not be where it is today with out John Wells. Over the past two years, John has dedicated hundreds of hours to conducting MPA Watch surveys and in 2020, he was responsible for over HALF of all our surveys. John single-handedly kept our program charging forward, providing us with feedback whenever we asked and even befriending a local Fish and Game warden. We are deeply grateful for his rock star accomplishments!
John Wells has lived in four states, two of which are located near the ocean: Arizona, California, New York, and Colorado. When everyone else was moving in the opposite direction, John moved back to Los Angeles from Colorado Springs upon retirement in 2018. He earned degrees in Biochemistry from Cal State LA and UCLA, and ever the environmentalist, he worked as a chemical analyst measuring EPA Priority Pollutants in the 1980s. More recently he explored careers in grounds and building maintenance and instruction in school bus driving. Our 2021 MPA program was extremely successful because of his tireless dedication.
Oralia Michel -2021 Board Member Super Healer
Oralia Michel has been on our Board for 10 years. She takes her role very seriously, attending nearly every meeting and providing helpful ideas and feedback while always pushing us to do better. Oralia was on our Marketing Committee for many years where she applied her expertise in corporate partnerships and branding, putting in many hours to help Heal the Bay craft messaging and win over the hearts and minds of Angelinos. As Secretary of the Board since early 2021, she has been a voice for equity and inclusion on the Board and staff: she never hesitates to speak up and support transformative work to address inequities in our environment and our work for clean water. Oralia also served on our Search Committee a 6-month process to which she contributed enormous time and thoughtful input. Oralia’s creativity, constant support, and true friendship with our organization make her invaluable and a true Super Healer.
John Reyes -The Jean Howell Award
The Jean Howell Award recognizes the outstanding achievement in volunteer service of someone who has won a Super Healer Award in the past and this year the vote for our winner was unanimous. John Reyes is a LA native who has been involved with Heal the Bay since 2016, initially involved with HTB’s Nothin’ But Sand beach program and California Coastal Commission’s Adopt-A-Beach partnership with his family and friends. In addition, John has committed to being a Storm Response Team member, a California Coastal Cleanup Day captain, and a major component of the Suits on the Sand program. His dedication has included hundreds of hours of beach program involvement and has permitted him to average double-digit beach cleanups year after year! John’s passion for marine debris removal is only rivaled by his enthusiasm for native habitat restoration, especially within sensitive island ecosystems. He has been recognized for his outstanding contribution to restoring native habitats within California Channel Islands and is proud member #126 of the California Channel Islands’ exclusive “All 8 Club.” John’s outstanding contributions to Heal the Bay’s work earned him the Super Healer award in 2018, and he played a major role in the success of Heal the Bay’s in-person programming throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dave Weeshoff-Bob Hertz Award
The Bob Hertz award is Heal the Bay’s lifetime award recognizing volunteers who have given us a lifetime of extraordinary volunteer service and there is no one who deserves the recognition more than Dave. This Award is for volunteers who show up day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year. Dave has done so much for Heal the Bay, it’s almost impossible to capture it all, but his work on the 2021 advocacy for the Regional MS4 (Stormwater) Permit stands out among his many contributions. This single permit covers 99 permittees across the Los Angeles Region, and addresses the primary source of pollution to our surface water: stormwater. It was a massive undertaking. Dave not only provided written comments on the draft permit back in 2020 urging the Regional Board to make changes to the draft and adopt a strong permit, but he also did extra work to get others to sign his letter, making an even greater impact. He also attended multiple MS4 Workshop events and provided oral comments during at least three of these events. On top of all of that, Dave even joined me for two strategy meetings to parse through the trash prohibition language of the permit and find ways to improve it. We did not end up getting exactly what we wanted in this new permit, but we did get commitments for more accountability that we are finally starting to see. I am so pleased to nominate Dave for his outstanding advocacy work to help reduce stormwater pollution in Los Angeles.