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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Los Angeles

Heal the Bay’s Angler Outreach Program Manager, Frankie Orrala, shares the program’s positive impacts and successes from over the last 17 years.

Heal the Bay’s Angler Outreach Program (AOP) is celebrating 17 years! This program is designed to educate pier and shore anglers in Los Angeles and Orange County about the risks of consuming fish contaminated with toxins such as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Created in 2003, AOP is a component of the Fish Contamination Education Collaboration (FCEC) and managed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of a far-reaching public education and outreach program. Notably, the program also works in association with federal and state agencies as well as local community organizations.

The FCEC was established to address a major contamination site (aka Superfund site) off the coast of Los Angeles, along the Palos Verdes shelf. DDT and PCBs were historically discharged into the ocean near the Palos Verdes Peninsula, pollution which still exists in the sediment today. These toxins can travel through the food chain into fish and potentially have negative impacts on human health if the fish are eaten; certain species of fish and certain areas are more likely to be contaminated.

The goal of the AOP is to educate anglers about this contamination and share which fish should be avoided. During visits to different piers in Southern California, Heal the Bay’s educational team has interacted with diverse fishing communities and outreach is conducted in multiple languages. Heal the Bay is proud to have a team of bilingual staff who have educated Southern California pier anglers in multiple languages, including: Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Khmer and Russian.

Since its inception 17 years ago, Heal the Bay’s AOP team has educated more than 170,000 pier anglers. Along the way, we have heard many stories and learned a lot about the people who frequently fish on our local piers. We appreciate these anglers and the knowledge and experiences they share with us.

Awards Received at the National Level

In 2009, the EPA presented two prestigious awards to the Fish Contamination Education Collaborative. FCEC was recognized for its work to protect the most vulnerable populations in Southern California from the health risks of consuming fish contaminated with DDT and PCBs; the other award was given to Heal the Bay and all FCEC partners in Los Angeles for Achievement in Environmental Justice.

On behalf of the AOP and Heal the Bay, I traveled to Washington D.C.  to receive the distinguished award in recognition of Citizen Excellence in Community Involvement. This award is presented annually to an individual or community group working with a Superfund team for outstanding achievements in the field of environmental protection.

Heal the Bay was thrilled to be selected to present to the FCEC among other national projects. The recognition was significant as it confirmed Heal the Bay’s work is truly protecting the health of all people, especially communities with economic and social disadvantages.

 

2009 Award Winner: Frankie Orrala of Heal the Bay receiving the Citizen Excellence in Community Involvement and Environmental Justice Achievement Awards

In addition to accepting this award in Washington D.C, in 2009, I traveled to Ecuador in South America, along with scientists from the National Fisheries Institute (Instituto Nacional de Pesca) as well as professors, researchers and students from the University of Guayaquil. We came together to talk about FCEC’s efforts to monitor pollution and educate the public about its effect on human and environmental health.

The international interest our program receives is an honor; the AOP team is busy building on these relationships and with more communities as they are facing similar problems as Southern California.

Continuing to advance environmental justice is a critical objective of our work. Moving forward, Heal the Bay’s AOP program remains committed to educating and protecting chronically underserved populations in the region, many of whom are exposed to higher rates of pollution compared to the general population.

In closing, there are many reasons for the AOP team’s continued success, from our great team members to the communities we work with, to the experts who are providing us with advice. All of it wouldn’t be possible without Heal the Bay’s dedicated supporters and for that we say THANK YOU!


To learn more about our program, visit www.pvsfish.org and if you want to join our bilingual team call us at 310-451-1500 or visit our site at www.healthebay.org

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Luke Ginger, Water Quality Scientist at Heal the Bay, discusses our disappearing Los Angeles County beaches due to climate change, and what we can all learn from the COVID-19 pandemic as local beaches begin to reopen. Luke fights for the environment’s rights by advocating for water quality regulation and enforcement. But he’s also looking out for the humans who go to the beaches, rivers, and streams by managing the Beach Report Card with NowCast and the River Report Card.

The beach has always provided me with happiness, fun, comfort, and adventure. As a kid, my parents had to pry me and my siblings away from the beach every time we went – we would have gladly tried our luck sleeping on the cold damp sand rather than get into our minivan. Two decades later, most of my beach days end with me reluctantly walking back to my Prius clutching my beach accoutrements with pruney fingers and purple lips from staying in the water too long. Only now I don’t have to convince anyone to stop for ice cream on the way home!

The ocean always has and always will be a fixture in my life. And, the same is true for many people living in SoCal. Beaches are where families gather, where people go to relax and have fun, and where anglers provide food for their families. The beach is a priceless resource woven into our lives providing us with happiness, memories, and sustenance. This makes it hard to accept the bitter reality that we will lose many of our beaches due to impacts from climate change and coastal development. 

Climate change is causing our oceans to warm up. When water warms up it expands, leading to sea level rise. The melting of glaciers and ice sheets also contributes to sea level rise. This puts our local beaches at risk because the ocean will gradually get bigger and eat up more sand and land. 

Our coastline is also shrinking because coastal development exacerbates beach loss by acting as a barrier to the natural movement of beaches inland as well as by cutting off natural sources of sand that would have nourished our beaches.

Depending on our response to sea level rise and our approach to coastal development, Southern California is predicted to lose between 31% and 67% of its beaches. What’s even more devastating is the fact that we cannot make that figure 0% because there has not been enough done to stem climate change both locally and globally. The hard truth is losing beaches is an inevitability due to humanity’s inaction to properly safeguard them.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us a dire glimpse into what our future holds. It is telling that many beaches in California had to be shut down during the pandemic because too many people were drawn to them. The beach gives us opportunities to exercise and offers moments of mental peace and relaxation, especially during difficult times. While beaches in Los Angeles County start to reopen this week for active recreation activities only, we still face the reality that soon there will be less beach for all of us to enjoy. 

These facts are hard to live with. But, we need to harness our emotions and use them for action. Our actions now can ensure we give our disappearing beaches a fair chance at being saved.

Here’s what you can do right now to help save our remaining beaches:

  1. Become civically engaged! Support policies that reduce pollution and wane our dependence on oil and fossil fuels. Heal the Bay supports California Senate Bill 54/Assembly Bill 1080, which requires companies to reduce their single-use plastic packaging (derived from oil) by 75%. We also support the end of drilling in neighborhoods as well as on the coast. If there are no climate action policies to vote on, or if you can’t vote, become an activist and participate in local events like Fire Drill Fridays or volunteer with organizations like STANDLA.
  2. Change your behavior! Consider personal lifestyle changes such as eating more plant-based meals and reducing your dependence on single-use plastics. See our list of climate action tips to help you. If we all take steps to reduce our individual climate impacts, we can have a huge impact. But we can’t rely solely on our individual actions; we need policies at all levels of government that will reign in polluting industries. Learn more about why we need to make systemic changes along with personal changes.
  3. Volunteer with Heal the Bay! We offer many opportunities for individuals and groups to help make an impact on protecting the environment. Register for a virtual volunteer orientation. Once we are back up and running, you can join us for a beach cleanup, help educate the public at Heal the Bay Aquarium, and participate in our community science programs.  
  4. Enjoy the beach safely! Tackling climate change requires widespread public support and for all of us to adapt to new realities. Whenever you visit the beach, make sure you are following all signage posted in the area as well as health and safety guidelines. And before you go in the water, make sure you check the Beach Report Card for the latest water quality grades and information.
  5. Increase coastal access! Heal the Bay supports coastal access for all, and it concerns us that many local communities in California have no access to open space. Nature heals us, and everyone should be able to enjoy the outdoors. As we continue to prioritize the COVID-19 response, and look toward the gradual reopening of outdoor spaces and related services, it is crucial for our state to work with diverse stakeholders to set clear health and safety guidelines so our outdoor spaces can reopen to all people and for a variety of activities. You can take action by urging your local and state government to prioritize safety, equity, and access when creating reopening plans for our beaches, parks, and trails.


Annelisa Moe, our Water Quality Scientist, explains the potential of LA’s rainfall, and how every individual can take part in voicing which stormwater capture projects should get Measure W funding.

Like all those across the country who can, I have been practicing responsible physical distancing and staying #SaferAtHome, only leaving the house to buy food or go for a walk. It is getting hot now, but throughout March there were days when I had to carefully time my neighborhood walks to avoid getting caught in the rain – something I am not used to having to do here in sunny Los Angeles.

Although we experienced a very dry winter this year, we have also gotten an unusually wet spring. In fact, we got 4.35 inches of rain in March alone, far exceeding the historical average for that month. But let’s be honest, when it comes to rainfall in LA, “average” does not happen all that often. In 2017, we received only 5 inches of rain. In 2018, we got a whopping 19 inches of rain. And in the 5 years that I have lived in LA, I have been caught off guard by more than one mid-summer downpour.

That’s why this is the time – right now – to figure out how to capture, clean, and reuse more of our stormwater, even from the most unexpected showers, so that we can prepare for a warmer and drier future with a dwindling snowpack.

Stormwater is the number one source of pollution in our rivers, lakes, and ocean. But it could instead become a new source of water for beneficial use. We now have the opportunity to fund new multi-benefit and nature-based stormwater capture projects because LA County voters approved The Safe, Clean Water Program (Measure W) back in 2018. Dozens of projects were proposed across Los Angeles County, 53 of which qualify for funding through the Safe, Clean Water Program this year! Funding and completion of the best of these projects – the ones that truly exemplify the goals of the Safe, Clean Water Program – will improve water quality at beaches and in rivers to protect public health, and green our communities and promote local water to make LA County more resilient to climate change.


Safe Clean Water Program GIS Reference Map. Each Watershed Area is shown in its own unique color. The colored dots represent all of the projects that applied for Safe, Clean Water Program funding this year. Explore the interactive map for more information.

As members of the nine Watershed Area Steering Committees (WASCs) decide which projects to fund, they must consider the commitments made to the greater LA community under this Program, including the goals to improve water quality, prioritize nature-based solutions, foster community engagement, ensure the equitable distribution of funds, and provide local quality jobs.

Fifty-three stormwater capture projects to choose from for Measure W funding! 

OurWaterLA, a diverse coalition working to reinvest in our water future, believes that the following projects best exemplify the goals of the Safe, Clean Water Program, out of the 53 proposed:

In response to COVID-19, WASCs will now convene through virtual online meetings, which are open to the public. The nine WASCs will be making their final decisions on which projects to fund starting Tuesday, April 28, and continuing through May. These funding decisions must be made with consideration given to community input. OurWaterLA will be advocating for the projects listed above, and providing additional input on other proposed projects.

Join Heal the Bay and OurWaterLA to become a Water Warrior:

Search your address to find out which WASC area is yours. Click on your WASC link below to learn all about your watershed area and your committee representatives, and then scroll down to sign up for e-mail updates. You can also check out the OurWaterLA Events calendar to see upcoming committee meeting dates, and find links to join your virtual online meeting.

Take a look at the PowerPoint presentations for the projects proposed in your WASC area, and contact your WASC representatives about which projects you would like to see funded this year.

Check out OurWaterLA Water Leader Resources. Don’t forget to share these electronic resources with your community. We may be physically distancing right now, but we can band together online and in spirit to secure our water future!

Contact Annelisa at Heal the Bay with any questions, or to learn more about how to get involved.


Want to learn more?



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.

RSVP to Upcoming “Knowledge Drops”:

Keep scrolling for past 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 @ 1:30pm PDT – MICROSAFARI 🔎
7/10 @ 1:30pm PDT – THE SCIENCE OF SURFING: MAKING WAVES 💨
7/15 @ 1:30pm PDT – TOXICIDAD ACUÁTICA
7/17 @ 1:30pm PDT – THE SCIENCE OF SURFING: BREAKING WAVES 🏄🏽‍♀️
7/22 @ 1:30pm PDT – SEAHORSES AND GARIBALDI / LOS CABALLITOS DE MAR Y GARIBALDI 🐴
7/29 @ 1:30pm PDT – SHARKS AND RAYS / TIBURONES Y MANTARRAYAS 🦈 

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

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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 

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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

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Activity Guides



To do our part in reducing the spread of COVID-19, Heal the Bay is following guidelines from the Los Angeles County Department of Health and suspending all public programs, including programming at Heal the Bay Aquarium effective immediately. Heal the Bay Aquarium is temporarily closed and all Heal the Bay public program activities are suspended until further notice to accommodate physical distancing and help reduce the transmission of COVID-19. The health and safety of our supporters, partners, staff, and community-at-large are our top priority. We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and will abide by any recommendations from our local health agencies and the CDC. We urge you to follow LA’s Safer At Home orders at this time to help #FlattenTheCurve and save lives.

Suspended public programs include: Speakers Bureau, Beach Cleanups (Nothin’ But Sand, Suits on the Sand & Adopt-A-Beach), Angler Outreach Program, Wednesday Volunteers, Marine Protected Area Watch as well as Heal the Bay Aquarium (Birthday Parties, Field Trips, public hours & special events).

We will provide updates as new information becomes available. Our Aquarium staff will remain working at our facility to provide care for the animals and conduct maintenance. Heal the Bay staff will work remotely and in the main office during this time.

For the health and well-being of all, please take proper precautions to limit the spread of illness. Please follow these guidelines:

  • Please stay home if you feel sick and/or have a fever, cough or shortness of breath.
  • Wear a fabric face mask or facial covering when you are out in public.
  • Practice physical distancing by staying at least 6-feet away from people who are not in your household.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. (If a tissue is unavailable, use your upper sleeve or inside your bent elbow.)
  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Make frequent use of hand sanitizer if available.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Follow all directives and guidelines by your health care provider and local health officials.
  • Get a flu shot to prevent influenza if you have not done so this season.

For more information, visit Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and view the LA Mayor’s Directive about COVID-19 LA City Guidelines.

If you have any questions, please Contact Us. If you are looking for marine science education resources, check out Knowledge Drops.

 

Last updated: June 23, 2020



Winter rains in Los Angeles County flush an enormous amount of pollution into our storm drains from our streets, sidewalks, and neighborhoods. Where does this pollution end up? Who is responsible for monitoring and regulating it? And what’s next in the efforts to reduce it? Join Annelisa Moe, Water Quality Scientist at Heal the Bay, as she dives into the underworld of LA rain.


So, we know that stormwater is a huge source of pollution for LA’s rivers, lakes, and ocean. But have you ever wondered why? Or wondered how we track and manage this pollution? Well, let’s get into it…

In Los Angeles County, we have a storm drain system and a sewage system which are completely separate. The storm drain system is called the municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4). Separating these systems reduces the risk of sewage spills when storms might flood our sewage system, and attempts to get stormwater out of our streets before they flood. However, this separated system is also the reason why stormwater flows directly into our rivers, lakes, and ocean without being filtered or treated, leading to serious water quality issues throughout LA County that threaten public and environmental health.

Two main types of water flows through the storm drain system: (1) Stormwater, which is rainwater that cannot infiltrate into the ground naturally and instead builds up as it flows over the ground surface, and (2) dry weather runoff, which originates when it is not raining through activities such as overwatering lawns, or washing cars.

Water quality is much worse within 72 hours of a significant rain event in LA County. Last year alone, rain in our region accounted for almost 200 billion gallons of stormwater flushing through our storm drain system and into local bodies of water.

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Under the Federal Clean Water Act, anyone who discharges water is required to limit the concentration of pollution in that water. This requirement is regulated under a permit to discharge water. The discharge of polluted stormwater and dry weather runoff through the storm drain system is regulated by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board through an MS4 Permit. Cities and counties are permittees under an MS4 Permit, and are each responsible for their polluted stormwater and dry weather runoff.

The LA County MS4 Permit has been around since 1990, but in 2012 water quality had not improved much at all since then. The last update to the permit occurred in 2012, and, to our dismay, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board unanimously voted to approve a 2012 MS4 Permit that was even worse than before – essentially setting up a scheme of self-regulation (meaning no regulation).

By no longer forcing cities that discharge millions of gallons of runoff into the storm drain system to adhere to strict numeric pollution limits, the Board took a giant step backward in protecting water quality throughout Southern California.

Under the 2012 rules, cities just had to submit a plan for reducing stormwater pollution (called a Watershed Management Plan) to the Board and have it approved to be in compliance, rather than having to actually demonstrate they are not exceeding specific thresholds for specific pollutants, such as copper or E. coli bacteria. These plans allow each permittee to choose the types of projects to build, and the timeline on which to build them. But these plans are adjusted each year, continuously drawing out implementation, and they do not include any clear way to determine if the permittee is making good progress.

We knew that this would slow progress even more, leaving stormwater pollution unchecked at the expense of public safety and aquatic health. Seven years later, we have the numbers to prove it.

In the next few weeks, Heal the Bay will be releasing a new report assessing the progress toward managing stormwater pollution in Los Angeles County, and how we can fix the permit when it is renewed in early 2020.

In the meantime, we encourage you to safely document photos and videos of trashed waterways and beaches, clogged storm drains, and stormwater pollution in LA County after it rains. Remember, safety first! Proceed with caution, observe all posted signs, and watch out for heavy flowing water. If you do snag a good image, please tag your location, #LArain, @healthebay and #healthebay. You can also tag relevant government officials to help raise awareness.



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.




Image from STAND-L.A. Facebook page

Meredith McCarthy, Operations Director at Heal the Bay, highlights the STAND-L.A. coalition and why the City of LA must take action now to protect public health and the environment, including investing in good green jobs, protecting our children’s health, buffering communities and phasing out fossil fuels.

The STAND-L.A. coalition is urging Los Angeles City Hall to take action by implementing public health protection measures, including a 2,500-foot setback between active oil wells and sensitive land uses, such as homes, schools, places of work and medical facilities. The coalition, led by Physicians for Social Responsibility and Communities for a Better Environment, seeks to phase out neighborhood drilling in order to protect the health and safety of Angelenos on the front lines of oil extraction. Low-income neighborhoods are exposed to disproportionate health and safety risks due to a history of abundant drilling within close proximity to where residents live, work and go about daily life.

Heal the Bay proudly stands in solidarity with STAND-L.A. Oil extraction is simply incompatible with healthy neighborhoods, thriving oceans and a sustainable future for our planet.

We know firsthand that fighting Big Oil is a heavy lift. Years ago, Heal the Bay helped lead a coalition that defeated a slant drilling oil project under the sea in Hermosa Beach. Now, we cannot sit back satisfied that we prevented an oil rig in the ocean only to see it turn up in a neighborhood.

We joined the STAND-L.A. coalition at City Hall on Tuesday, October 15 for the Energy, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice Committee hearing. The Committee reviewed the City’s Petroleum Administrator’s feasibility report on the proposed setbacks between oil sites and sensitive land uses. The report suggested a 600-foot setback for existing oil and gas wells and a 1,500-foot setback for new wells. Coalition members argued this doesn’t go far enough, and rightly so.

Having lived through many environmental policy campaigns—where industries claimed that our economy would collapse and jobs would be lost if we banned plastic bags, cleaned up stormwater or prevented sewage from dumping into the Bay—I expected a similar argument to justify continuing to drill. So I was not surprised as I listened to testimony at City Hall that the pressing issue of drilling in our neighborhoods, once again, was being framed as a binary debate between “good jobs” versus “healthy neighborhoods”.

The coalition argued that this foolish debate will never be won by prioritizing one issue over the other. Environmental and public health risks won’t be solved either. We can only make progress by thinking about the issue holistically – investing in good green jobs now weans us off our harmful addiction to oil. Protecting our children’s health now leads to a more equitable future. Buffering communities now builds a more resilient LA. Phasing out fossil fuels now creates new job and economic opportunities… and not to mention a more sustainable planet that’s facing increasingly severe impacts from climate change.

Time and time again, Los Angeles has made bold moves to protect public and environmental health. But, what happens when cities can’t afford to buy a healthy environment from oil drilling lease holders to protect its residents, or worse, cities choose to ignore the damage being done? This is the question that the City of LA is grappling with. Will we invest in long-term sustainability or will city leaders be tempted by temporary job gains and the promise of future revenue?

It’s important to make the connection to plastics here, too. What do plastics and fossil fuels have in common, you ask? The plastics industry uses as much oil as aviation. So when we think about oil drilling in neighborhoods, we must also think about why we are drilling there in the first place.

The more cheap energy and cheap plastic material we use, the more waste we generate and the greater the environmental costs. The search for profit has turned a blind eye to the burdens and costs of poor air and water quality that low-resourced neighborhoods must carry.

Plastics use is expected to quadruple by 2050. In 30 years, the weight of plastics is likely to outweigh that of fish in our ocean. Plastic waste is already having a profound impact on oceans and marine life. It is found inside animals throughout the ocean food chain, from mussels to sea turtles to whales, and is likely to end up in the human food chain. These are the conclusions from a new report released at Davos by the World Economics Forum, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and consultancy firm McKinsey.

Environmental costs translate directly into economic costs. We can’t afford inaction and we can’t ignore the negative impacts on our communities, from blight to toxic air.

Please take a second to call or email your City Council representative and demand good jobs AND a healthy neighborhood. Insist that our region start working toward not just a new economy, but a new generative economy. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and a 2,500-foot setback.

Follow STAND L.A. on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and watch this hashtag for updates #NoDrillingWhereWereLiving.



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

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

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

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Annelisa Moe and Luke Ginger, Heal the Bay water quality scientists, converse quietly during the public comment period. (Photo by Alex Choy)

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

RSVP


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

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

RSVP


“Reef Paintings” Exhibition
June 1-16 @ Silverlake

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

MORE INFO


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

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

MORE INFO


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

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

MORE INFO & RSVP


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

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

RSVP


How else can you get involved?

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

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

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

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