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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Los Angeles

Failure is not defeat when we hold ourselves accountable, learn, improve, and move forward together. Our Science and Policy team highlights some environmental policy woes in Part 2 below, and in Part 1 we reflect on wins from the past year. 

In a year like 2020, it is worth the time to celebrate our environmental policy wins. But it may be even more important to recognize our woes, setbacks, and challenges. Failure is a part of life, and it may be painful at times, but it does not mean defeat. It is an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to find ways to improve our work moving forward. Let’s reflect on three of our 2020 environmental policy woes, and set some new goals for 2021. 

California Environmental Legislation

It was a challenging year in the CA legislature. With critical COVID-19 relief bills understandably taking priority, many environmental bills that were expected to pass this year did not make it through. One major loss was Senate Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 1080, twin bills also known as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, which would have set a goal of reducing single-use plastic waste by 75% by 2030. Following heavy and expensive lobbying campaigns from the plastics industry, these bills narrowly missed passing on the final day of the legislative season in August. 

While this was a devastating blow, there were also wins in plastic pollution reduction policy this year. Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 793 into law, making California the first state in the country to set minimum levels for recycled content in beverage containers. California residents also got the Plastics Free California Initiative on the 2022 ballot. If it passes, this initiative would be the most comprehensive plastic pollution reduction policy in the nation. Heal the Bay is not giving up the fight and we are ready to push for strong plastics legislation in the coming year. Sign up to learn more on this from Reusable LA. 

Offshore DDT Dumping

The recent discovery (as reported by the LA Times) of a very large number of dumped barrels of DDT off the coast of Los Angeles was a shock to us and many others who have been working on issues surrounding DDT contamination for over 30 years. We knew about the other large site contaminated by DDT and PCBs on the Palos Verde Shelf, but this new discovery of a potentially similar sized underwater DDT dump was devastating, to say the least. The news left us with many questions. Who is responsible and how can we hold corporate polluters accountable? What is the impact to marine ecosystems and human health? Can this pollution be cleaned up? 

Heal the Bay is currently meeting with elected officials, government agencies, and partners to push for increased scientific understanding of the problem, increased education and outreach particularly to communities at risk from contaminated fish, and increased accountability and transparency. 

Stormwater Regulation with the MS4 Permit

The Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit regulates stormwater pollution. The LA County MS4 Permit has been around since 1990, and yet stormwater is still the leading source of water pollution. The lack of accountability in the last MS4 Permit has allowed permittees to fall woefully behind schedule in reducing this pollution. Although renewal of this critical MS4 Permit is already 3 years behind schedule, adoption was again delayed until 2021. Unfortunately, permittees have dominated this process, demanding a weaker permit at the expense of our surface water quality, and so far the Los Angeles Regional Water Board has been receptive to their grumbles.

Heal the Bay’s Take LA by Storm campaign launched this year to provide support for new advocates to engage in this permit process, too. Voices from respected NGOs across LA County attended the Regional Board’s October MS4 Workshop; and in December, 34 NGOs and 19 individual community members weighed in through written comments. We are starting to shift the narrative as the Board hears from communities, but there is still a lot to do before permit adoption in summer 2021.

Heal the Bay will continue to advocate for a strong permit and provide better support to LA communities. Sign up to Take LA by Storm, and together we can hold permittees accountable and reduce stormwater pollution.



2020 was a long and difficult year. At times it felt like we were going backwards. In this 2-part series, our Science and Policy team highlights some forward-moving progress and setbacks on the environmental policy front in California. We review our wins in Part 1 below, and in Part 2 we reflect on policies woes from the past year. 

2020 was tough. Systemic racism and environmental injustices continue to disproportionately impact BIPOC communities. More prevalent media coverage has elevated this painful reality, and as a nation, as organizations, and as individuals, many of us have challenged ourselves to do better. Despite this awakening, injustices remain, the climate crisis is escalating, and we’re struggling to maintain our day-to-day lives in the face of a new global public health pandemic with the spread of COVID-19. 

Even as these crises rage on, the wheels of government keep turning to address ongoing environmental issues, and Heal the Bay’s Science and Policy team has done its best to keep up. Let’s take a few minutes to highlight three environmental policy wins from 2020.  

Statewide Toxicity Provisions

After nearly two decades, the State Water Board adopted Toxicity Provisions in December, establishing an approach using Whole Effluent Toxicity (the collective adverse effect on aquatic life from all pollutants contained in wastewater) as a numeric limit with a clear pass/fail result. Toxicity testing provides an important back-stop to detect harmful conditions caused by chemicals and chemical mixtures that aren’t otherwise tested like new pesticides, household chemicals, pharmaceuticals, etc. 

Heal the Bay has been waiting for this since 2003. We even released a report in 2009 on the impacts of not including numeric toxicity limits in permits. In 2014, our Los Angeles Regional Board took a prudent step forward by adopting the use of numeric toxicity limits in local permits, creating momentum for the State Board to follow suit. We’re excited to finally see the adoption of these Provisions, though we did make a few concessions over the years. For example, these Provisions apply only to non-stormwater permits; however, thanks to our advocacy work alongside our partners at the California Coastkeeper Alliance, the State Board committed to starting on stormwater toxicity requirements next. 

Biological Objectives

The San Diego Regional Water Board became the first region in CA to adopt Biological Objectives for streams using numeric water quality standards for the biological community of a stream (based on the benthic macroinvertebrate community) in December. The Clean Water Act’s objective is to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters,” but until now, implementation has focused solely on chemical integrity. Biological Objectives tell a meaningful and comprehensive story about the stream’s water quality, habitat, and biota. Unfortunately, these objectives do not apply to concrete lined streams; however, while not perfect, this is a big step forward. 

Heal the Bay advocated for the San Diego Biological Objectives alongside our partners at San Diego Coastkeeper and LA Waterkeeper. With this momentum from the San Diego region, we also advocated for the LA Regional Water Board to adopt their own Biological Objectives. We were thrilled to see a data project related to Biological Objectives make the Los Angeles Regional Board’s priority list this year! We will continue to work with our NGO partners and the Regional Board staff to move this effort along.

Safe, Clean Water Program Implementation

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved over $95 million in new investments under Measure W (the Safe, Clean Water Program) in October. The nine Watershed Area Steering Committees (WASCs), which each include five community representatives, have been working diligently all year to determine where and how funds should be spent. This first round of funding was approved for each WASC to hire Watershed Coordinators, and for the Program to fund 41 infrastructure projects, 15 technical assistance projects, and 4 scientific studies.

Heal the Bay, as a core team member of the OurWaterLA Coalition, has been involved in this program since its inception. We have engaged with the public and met with County staff to help ensure that the goals of the Program are met, while our President and CEO, Shelley Luce oversaw progress as Co-Chair of the Regional Oversight Committee. Heal the Bay has been selected as the Watershed Coordinator for the South Santa Monica Bay. We will lead public engagement efforts in this area for the Safe, Clean Water Program, and coordinate across the county with all 12 Watershed Coordinators. We also applied to be Watershed Coordinators for the Central Santa Monica Bay watershed area – the final decision for that position will be determined within the next few weeks.

Mikaela Loach reminds us all that “we have a lot of power to make changes to these [problematic] systems.” And so we urge you to advocate with all your might for good policies and the systemic changes we need. As hard as we fight, there will be setbacks. Read Part 2 to learn about three environmental policy woes in 2020.



UPDATE: Originally published on October 6, 2020. Last update on December 21, 2020 with the election results.

Download Graphics and Share Voter Guide 2020 Results

 

Yes on Prop 16: Affirmative Action / State of California

Notes: Failed

A success in Los Angeles County, but didn’t gain enough support from California voters to pass. The fight to allow people the option of considering equitable access to opportunity in the workforce of government agencies, contractors, and universities continues.

_____

Yes on Prop 17: Restored voting rights for felons / State of California

Notes: Passed

Finally possible for people who are on parole for felony convictions to vote. Voters also passed the potential for people who are on parole for felony convictions to run for office in California. People who have served their time deserve to participate in democracy.

_____

Yes on Prop 18: 17 year old people vote in primary / State of California

Notes: Failed

First introduced 16 years ago, would have allowed 17 year old people to vote in primary and special elections, if they turn 18 by the subsequent general election. This modest effort to expand voting rights and increase youth civic engagement failed. There are already 18 states and Washington D.C. where this is legal.

_____

Yes on Measure J Reimagine LA County / Los Angeles County 

Notes: Passed

Investments in programs that respond directly to local needs is how we move toward healthier communities. Heal the Bay advocates for prioritizing equitable access to green jobs and a clean environment across Greater Los Angeles.

_____

Yes on Measure RR / $7B Bond for LAUSD / City of Los Angeles

Notes: Passed

All children in Los Angeles County deserve clean water, improved school safety standards, asbestos-free facilities, and classrooms equipped with technology for the 21st century. This funding for the Los Angeles Unified School District was deeply needed to protect students, families, teachers, and faculty.

[END OF UPDATE]

 


 

If you want to make waves, you have to get in the water. With voting season upon us, make use of these handy resources to create your ocean of change. 

  • Dive into Heal the Bay’s Voting Guide (below)
  • Vote early!

Did you know California is one of a few states that allows “Conditional Voter Registration?“ This means you can register to vote conditionally all the way through Election Day on November 3. Contact the Los Angeles County Election Office for more information if you still need to register to vote. Early Voting takes place October 5 – November 2. If you are voting by mail-in ballot, the USPS recommends that you do so no later than October 27

Heal the Bay’s missionto make our coastal California waters and watersheds safe, healthy, and cleanis affected by issues of environmental justice.

We can only keep our rivers and oceans clean and accessible when we support and invest in all of our communities. That is why we are recommending yes votes on ballot initiatives that enact reforms that support communities most impacted by environmental injustices. Environmental justice is inextricably linked to social justice, and improving equity improves the health and environment across our communities. 

Heal the Bay Voter Guide: 

The Heal the Bay team created this brief voter guide for the November 3, 2020 election in Los Angeles County.

Yes on Prop 16: Affirmative Action / State of California
Yes on Props 17 & 18: Increasing Access to Voting / State of California
Yes on Measure J Reimagine LA County / Los Angeles County
Yes on Measure RR / $7B Bond for LAUSD / City of Los Angeles

_____

Proposition 16: A vote to allow the consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin to address diversity in public employment, contracting, and education.

The issue:  This proposition repeals Prop 209, a ban on affirmative action in the California Constitution. This will allow for the consideration of diversity as a factor in public employment, public contracting, and public education decisions.

The stakes: Proposition 16 would diversify the composition of the workforce and the hiring pool available to government agencies, contractors, and university collaborators that work with Heal the Bay. As members of the environmental NGO community, we recognize the lack of diversity in leadership and staff within environmental organizations. Diverse perspectives provide a wider array of creative solutions to the environmental problems we face. With our commitment to advance environmental justice, Heal the Bay has taken strides to increase internal diversity, including updating our hiring policies. This proposition would help other agencies and universities to do the same in an effort to increase diversity at all levels. 

Our recommendation: Cast your ballot to advance equity. Vote YES on Prop 16.

_____

Propositions 17 and 18: Votes to increase access to voting. 

The issue:  Proposition 17 would amend the Constitution of California to allow people who are on parole for felony convictions to vote. Proposition 18 would allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary and special elections, if they will turn 18 by the subsequent general election.

The stakes: The issues confronting our state, including climate change, the resulting intensity of wildfires, and the human right to clean water, affect everyone, and everyone should have a say in them. The felons who’ve served their time and are on parole, as well as our youth in California, have to live with our decisions and should be able to participate in making them. 

Our recommendation: Cast your ballot to increase voting access. Vote YES on Props 17 and 18.

_____

Measure J (Los Angeles County): A vote to dismantle systemic racism by investing in health, housing, and jobs.

The issue: Los Angeles County spends vastly more money – 42% of all revenues – on law enforcement and the legal system, at the expense of other community needs including the environment. Measure J will permanently allocate at least 10% of the county’s unrestricted general funds to community counseling, mental health services, youth development programs, small businesses, job creation, career training, and affordable housing. These much-needed investments move us toward healthier communities and can support green jobs and a cleaner environment for low-income communities and communities of color in Los Angeles. 

The stakes: Heal the Bay wrote a comment letter in June 2020 supporting the People’s Budget to increase investments in community health in Los Angeles. Measure J includes programs and values similar to those we advocated in Measure W two years ago: good jobs, career training opportunities, and equity.

Our recommendation: Cast your ballot for the health, housing, and jobs of the communities who need it most. Vote YES on Measure J.

_____

Measure RR (Los Angeles): A vote to upgrade LAUSD schools and increase school safety.

The issue: Heal the Bay believes deeply in the value of education. We must invest in our children and our future. LAUSD infrastructure requires upgrades to aging buildings that aren’t safe for students. This Measure would authorize $7,000,000,000 in bonds at legal rates to address real infrastructure issues at LAUSD schools. It would include independent audits and citizens’ oversight, with none of the money going to administrative salaries. 

The stakes: Heal the Bay works with LAUSD schools regularly, and we have seen first hand through our Speakers Bureau program the inequities and lack of resources between different school districts. We believe that all children in LA County deserve clean water, improved safety standards, asbestos-free facilities, and classrooms equipped with technology for the 21st century.

Our recommendation: Cast your ballot for long-needed upgrades and safety measures in LAUSD schools. Vote YES on RR.

 

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Recent school closures mean many students are not getting the daily science education they need. We need to practice physical distancing at this time, and we also need to put our brainpower and creative energy to good use, so students can learn about our environment remotely.

Heal the Bay created the online science education webinar series, “Knowledge Drops” in 2020 and it covers dozens of topics ranging from single-use plastics during COVID-19 to interesting marine animals found in SoCal to the most pressing local climate issues we are tackling today. Our team of scientists, experts, and advocates explore the water world and offer fun lessons about the marine environment. Each video session is about 1-hour long and includes a prerecorded live presentation, Q&A, polls, and videos. Our archive of webinars and resources are generally geared for 3rd – 8th grade students and up, but all ages are welcome!

See all recorded Knowledge Drops.

See Gotitas Del Saber Archivo en Español.

 

Knowledge Drops:

 

2020 Knowledge Drops Live Schedule (Link to Resources and Recordings Below… Keep Scrollin’)

3/18 – THE SEWAGE SYSTEM 🚰
3/20 – KNOW THE FLOW 💦
3/23 – MARVELOUS MOLLUSKS 🐚
3/25 – STORM DRAINS ☔️
3/27  – MARINE PROTECTED AREAS 🛡
3/30 – SHARKS AND RAYS 🦈
4/1 – BEACH REPORT CARD 💯
4/3 – PLASTICS 🥤
4/6 – SEA JELLIES 💧
4/8 – ECHINODERMS ⭐️
4/10 – CLEAN WATER ACT 📜
4/13 – COASTAL SHORE BIRDS 🦆
4/15 – COMMUNITY SCIENCE 🔬
4/17 – CONTAMINATED SEAFOOD ⛔️
4/20 – KELP 🌿
4/22 – HISTORY OF EARTH DAY 🌎
4/22 – LA HISTORIA DEL DIA DE LA TIERRA 🌍
4/24 – CLIMATE CHANGE ⚠️
4/27 – TIDE POOLS 🐌
4/29 – SEA TURTLES 🐢
5/1 – STREAMS OF THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS ⛰
5/6 – CONOCE EL FLUJO 💦
5/8 – VIRUSES AND WATER QUALITY: IS IT SAFE TO SWIM?
5/11 – MICROSAFARI 🔎
5/13 – DESAGUES PLUVIALES 🌧
5/15 – ALGAL BLOOMS 🌊
5/18 – PENGUINS, OUR OCEAN FRINDS 🐧
5/20 – PLASTICOS 🥤
5/22 – NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS 🌳
5/27 – PESCADO CONTIMINADOS 🎣
5/29 – NATIONAL ESTUARY PROGRAM 🏞
6/3 – BLOOMS ALGAL 🌊
6/4 – NICK GABALDON DAY 🏄🏾‍♂️
6/8 – HISTORY OF WORLD OCEANS DAY  🌏
6/10 – VIRUS Y CALIDAD DEL AGUA
6/12 – AQUATIC TOXICITY: SOURCES AND SOLUTIONS ❗️
6/15 –  HOW DO I EAT? 🍴
6/17 –  SITIO SUPERFUND 🆘
6/19 –  SEA LEVEL RISE AND CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION 🔝
6/22 –  SEAHORSES AND OTHER FINTASTIC FATHERS 🏅
6/24 – ACUARIO Y LIMPIEZA COSTERA 🐙
6/26 – RIVER REPORT CARD 📊
6/29 – GO WITH THE GLOW: MARINE BIOLUMINESCENCE & BIOFLUORESCENCE 💡
7/1 – ÁREAS MARINAS PROTEGIDAS (MPAs)🛡
7/6 – CRUSTACEANS 🦐
7/8 – MICROSAFARI 🔎
7/10 – THE SCIENCE OF SURFING: MAKING WAVES 💨
7/15 – TOXICIDAD ACUÁTICA
7/17 – THE SCIENCE OF SURFING: BREAKING WAVES 🏄🏽‍♀️
7/22 – SEAHORSES AND GARIBALDI / LOS CABALLITOS DE MAR Y GARIBALDI 🐴
7/24 – THE FUTURE OF CALIFORNIA’S MPAs 🔮
7/29 – SHARKS AND RAYS / TIBURONES Y MANTARRAYAS 🦈
7/31 – NOWCAST AND COMPUTER CODING 🖥
8/28 – UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY 📸
9/9 – COASTAL CLEANUP MONTH: STREAMS OF THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS / MES DE LA LIMPIEZA COSTERA: ARROYOS DE LAS MONTAÑAS DE SANTA MÓNICA 🌄
9/10 – COASTAL CLEANUP MONTH: STREAMS OF THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS 🌄
9/16 –
COASTAL CLEANUP MONTH: RIVER WATER QUALITY AND RECREATION /
MES DE LA LIMPIEZA COSTERA: HEAL THE BAY’S CALIFICACIONES DEL RÍO 🚣🏾‍♀️
9/17 –
COASTAL CLEANUP MONTH: RIVER WATER QUALITY AND RECREATION 🚣🏾‍♀️
9/24 –
COASTAL CLEANUP MONTH: HOW TO PROTECT OUR COASTAL RESOURCES AND PEOPLE 👨‍👧‍👦
11/19 – BALLONA WETLANDS: HISTORY, NEED FOR RESTORATION, & FUTURE PLANS 🌾
12/3 – WAIT, WHAT’S HAPPENING TO THE LA RIVER? 🧐

 

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


Resources and Videos Archive:

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”, volunteer events, and action alerts – you can opt out at any time.)

Knowledge Drops: The Sewage System

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

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Know the Flow

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

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Marvelous Mollusks

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

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Storm Drains

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

More Information:

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

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Plastics

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

More Information:

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

More Information:

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

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Nature-Based Solutions

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

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Knowledge Drops: Pescados Contaminados

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

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Knowledge Drops: Blooms Algal

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

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Knowledge Drops: Nick Gabaldon Day

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

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Knowledge Drops: History of World Oceans Day

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

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Knowledge Drops: Virus y Calidad del Agua

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

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Knowledge Drops: Aquatic Toxicity: Sources and Solutions

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

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Knowledge Drops: How Do I Eat?

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

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Knowledge Drops: Sitio Superfund

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

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Knowledge Drops: Sea Level Rise and Climate Change Adaptation

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

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Knowledge Drops: Seahorses and Other Fantastic Fathers

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

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Knowledge Drops: Aquario y Limpieza Costera

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

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Knowledge Drops: River Report Card

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

 

Knowledge Drops: Marine Bioluminescence & Biofluorescence

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

 More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Áreas Marinas Protegidas (MPAS)

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

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Knowledge Drops: Crustaceans

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

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Knowledge Drops: MicroSafari (en Español)

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

Knowledge Drops: The Science of Surfing: Making Waves

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

Knowledge Drops: Toxicidad Acuática

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

Knowledge Drops: The Science of Surfing: Breaking Waves

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

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

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

Knowledge Drops: The Future of California’s MPAs

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

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Sharks and Rays / Tiburones y Mantarrayas

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

Knowledge Drops: NowCast and Computer Coding

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

Knowledge Drops: Underwater Photography

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/2030045220290813452

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Coastal Cleanup Month: Streams of the Santa Monica Mountains / Mes de la Limpieza Costera: Arroyos de las Montañas de Santa Mónica

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/8526730675111592195

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Coastal Cleanup Month: Streams of the Santa Monica Mountains

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/2305934678223571970

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Coastal Cleanup Month: River Water Quality and Recreation / Mes de la Limpieza Costera: Heal the Bay’s Calificaciones del Río

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/8003309264375293707

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Coastal Cleanup Month: River Water Quality and Recreation

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/4673747262445181187

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Coastal Cleanup Month: How to Protect Our Coastal Resources and People

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/1065643780960024080

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Ballona Wetlands: History, Need for Restoration, & Future Plans

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/8069581229644865283

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Wait, What’s Happening to the LA River?

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/2950761965889808642

More Information:


Activity Guides

 

Last updated: December 3, 2020



Luke Ginger, Water Quality Scientist at Heal the Bay, recaps a tough summer for water quality monitoring at LA County’s freshwater recreation areas, and outlines the urgent need for equitable, climate-resilient communities in the face of a health pandemic, extreme heat, unprecedented wildfires, and beyond.

Heal the Bay concludes another summer of freshwater sampling and monitoring with the River Report Card. Over the course of the summer of 2020, we provided inland water-goers with water quality grades for 27 freshwater recreation sites across Los Angeles County, California. This included 5 sites in Malibu Creek State Park and the LA River, where Heal the Bay staff collected water quality samples. We updated grades on a weekly basis and posted them online to be viewed by the public. 

Summer 2020 was filled with many challenges that impacted our program. Due to COVID-19, Heal the Bay was unable to hire local college students to monitor water quality at recreation sites and storm drains like in previous years. Instead, Heal the Bay’s permanent staff carried out water sampling. This was a major blow to our program because one of our main goals has always been to provide knowledge, skills, and career training to emerging professionals. Additionally, without a full crew, we sampled fewer recreation sites and storm drains, leaving the public with less information on how to stay safe.

We also had to take extra precautions while sampling – wearing masks at all times, driving in separate vehicles, and sporting extra protective gear (face shields and extra-long gloves) to reduce exposure to potentially contaminated water. These were necessary precautions because the research on the risk of contracting COVID-19 from recreational waters is still ongoing. 


Photo by Alice Dison

There were also major changes in accessibility and use this summer at the sites Heal the Bay monitored. Malibu Creek State Park was open all summer, but the swimming holes (Rock Pool and Las Virgenes Creek) remained closed due to concerns over the ability to maintain proper physical distancing. However, this closure was not clearly enforced as we saw many swimmers throughout the summer. The official LA River recreation zones were open from Memorial Day until the end of September, but kayaking was not allowed due to safety concerns around COVID-19.   

Monitoring efforts by LA Sanitation, Council for Watershed Health, and San Gabriel Regional Watershed Monitoring Program were impacted this summer as well. There were weeks where certain recreation sites in the Upper LA River Watershed and San Gabriel River Watershed were not monitored due to park closures or overcrowding concerns. According to LA Sanitation officials, Hermit Falls was not monitored this summer because it is a particularly crowded area that posed a health risk to the water quality monitors. Worker safety is incredibly important, as is the health of all Angelenos and visitors. Unfortunately, these tough decisions resulted in critical water quality information not being available at a very popular location all summer. LA Sanitation instead sampled the Vogel Flats picnic area, which is a new addition to the River Report Card. Toward the end of the summer, monitoring in the San Gabriel River Watershed and some of the Upper LA River Watershed was cut short due to the Bobcat Fire and the subsequent closure of Angeles National Forest. 

This summer, the pandemic, a record setting wildfire season, and extreme heat culminated into one even larger public health crisis. The pandemic forced people to stay local and opt for close-by areas to take a swim. Because of this, as well as the reduced risk of contracting COVID-19 outdoors, people flocked in unusually high numbers to ocean beaches and freshwater recreation sites to stay active and cool. Unfortunately, if outdoor crowds become too big and dense, there is an increased risk of COVID-19 spread. The fact that so many people sought respite outside made clear the importance of open space for physical and mental health. But, the benefits of open space are not equally experienced by all. Black and Latinx communities have been systemically denied access to parks and nature, and there is a lot of work to do to provide justice for these communities. LA City and County must work hard to meet their target of 65% of Angelenos living within half a mile of a park or open space by 2025 (and 75% by 2035). 


Photo by Alice Dison

The summer’s extreme heat waves coincided with the largest wildfires in California’s history, which created harmful air quality across the entire west coast. Many people endured hazardous outdoor air quality in order to cool off at rivers, streams, and beaches. Tragically, exposure to wildfire-induced poor air quality exacerbates the harmful health effects of COVID-19. So for low-income households without air conditioning, it was impossible to escape harm; people were either subject to extreme heat at home or subject to harmful air quality outside. We must acknowledge that in the United States, the communities facing the brunt of climate change impacts like extreme heat and wildfire are disproportionately Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian people.

Summer 2020 was a tough time for many, and it underscores the need for immediate and equitable action to address the climate crisis and environmental justice.

Looking forward, Heal the Bay will continue to advocate for water quality improvements across LA County, so everyone is protected from waterborne illness. And, we will continue to push for nature-based policies that stem the impacts of climate change and make our communities climate resilient.


Summer 2020 Results

Here are the water quality results from the sites Heal the Bay monitored during summer 2020.

Malibu Creek State Park

Rock Pool – did slightly better than last year

  • 64% Green
  • 35% Yellow
  • 0% Red

Las Virgenes Creek – worse than last year

  • 0% Green
  • 93% Yellow
  • 7% Red

Los Angeles River

Sepulveda Basin at Burbank Ave. – slightly better than last year

  • 31% Green
  • 69% Yellow
  • 0% Red

Rattlesnake Park – worse than last year

  • 15% Green
  • 33% Yellow
  • 51% Red

Steelhead Park – same as last year

  • 64% Green
  • 33% Yellow
  • 3% Red

Learn More:



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

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


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

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

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

See all recorded Knowledge Drops.


Gotitas del Saber:

 

PAST EVENTS (LINK TO VIDEOS BELOW)

4/22 – LA HISTORIA DEL DIA DE LA TIERRA 🌍
5/6 – CONOCE EL FLUJO 💦
5/13 – DESAGUES PLUVIALES 🌧
5/20 – PLASTICOS 🥤
5/27 – PESCADO CONTIMINADOS 🎣
6/10 – VIRUS Y CALIDAD DEL AGUA
6/17 –  SITIO SUPERFUND 🆘
6/24 – ACUARIO Y LIMPIEZA COSTERA 🐙
7/1 – ÁREAS MARINAS PROTEGIDAS (MPAs)🛡
7/15 – TOXICIDAD ACUÁTICA
7/22 – LOS CABALLITOS DE MAR Y GARIBALDI 🐴
7/29 – SHARKS AND RAYS / TIBURONES Y MANTARRAYAS 🦈
9/9 – MES DE LA LIMPIEZA COSTERA: ARROYOS DE LAS MONTAÑAS DE SANTA MÓNICA 🌄
9/16 – MES DE LA LIMPIEZA COSTERA: HEAL THE BAY’S CALIFICACIONES DEL RÍO🚣🏾‍♀️
9/24 – MES DE LA LIMPIEZA COSTERA: MUELLES DE PESCA VISITADOS POR EL EQUIPO DE ANGLER OUTREACH PROGRAM DE HEAL THE BAY 🐟
10/28 – PESCADO ESCALOFRIANTE DE LA BAHÍA DE SANTA MÓNICA 👻
11/10 – DE DONDE SON LOS PESCADORES? 🗺
12/15 – CONTAMINACIÓN POR DDT EN LA COSTA DE LOS ANGELES ⚠️

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


Resources and Videos/Recursos:

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

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

 

Gotitas del SaberLa historia del Día de la Tierra

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

Más información:

 

Gotitas del SaberConoce el Flujo

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

Más información:

 

Gotitas del SaberDesagues Pluviales

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

Más información:

 

Gotitas del SaberPlasticos

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

Más información:

 

Gotitas del SaberPescados Contaminados

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

Más información:

 

Gotitas del SaberVirus y Calidad del Agua

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

Más información:

 

Gotitas del SaberAquatic Toxicity: Sources and Solutions

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

Más información:

 

Gotitas del SaberSitio Superfund

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

Más información:

 

Gotitas del SaberAquario y Limpieza Costera

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

Más información:

 

Gotitas del SaberÁreas Marinas Protegidas (MPAS)

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

Más información:

 

Gotitas del SaberCrustaceans

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

Más información:

 

Gotitas del SaberMicroSafari

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

 

Gotitas del SaberToxicidad Acuática

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

 

Gotitas del SaberLos Caballitos De Mar Y Garibaldi

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

 

Gotitas del SaberTiburones y Mantarrayas 

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

 

Gotitas del SaberMes de la Limpieza Costera: Arroyos de las Montañas de Santa Mónica

Webinar grabado: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/8526730675111592195

Más información:

Gotitas del SaberMes de la Limpieza Costera: Heal the Bay’s Calificaciones del Río

Webinar grabado: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/8003309264375293707

Más información:

Gotitas del Saber: Mes de la Limpieza Costera: Muelles de pesca visitados por el equipo de Angler Outreach Program de Heal the Bay

Webinar grabado: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/7620905717459421708

Más información:

 

Gotitas del Saber: Pescado escalofriante de la bahía de Santa Mónica

Webinar grabado: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/6799468277701159171

 

Gotitas del Saber: De Donde son los Pescadores?

Webinar grabado: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/1136506206896807938

 

Gotitas del Saber: Contaminación por DDT en la costa de Los Angeles

Webinar grabado: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/8309988348119216130

 


Activity Guides



Si quieres hacer olas, tienes que meterte en el agua. Con la temporada de votaciones sobre nosotros, utilice estos prácticos recursos para crear su océano de cambio.

La votación anticipada se lleva a cabo del 5 de octubre al 2 de noviembre. Si vota por correo, el USPS recomienda que lo haga a más tardar el 27 de octubre.

La misión de Heal the Bay, hacer que nuestras aguas y cuencas hidrográficas de la costa de California sean seguras, saludables y limpias, se ve afectada por cuestiones de injusticia ambiental.

Solo podemos mantener limpios y accesibles nuestros ríos y océanos cuando apoyamos e invertamos en todas nuestras comunidades. Es por eso que estamos recomendando votos a favor en iniciativas que promulguen reformas que apoyen a las comunidades más afectadas por las injusticias ambientales. La justicia ambiental está indisolublemente ligada a la justicia social, y mejorar la equidad mejora la salud y el medio ambiente en nuestras comunidades.

Guía de votantes de Heal the Bay:

El equipo de Heal the Bay creó esta breve guía para votantes para las elecciones del 3 de noviembre de 2020 en el condado de Los Ángeles.

SÍ a la Proposición 16: Acción afirmativa / Estado de California
SÍ a las Props 17 y 18: Aumento del acceso a la votación / Estado de California
SÍ a la Medida J: Reformar el condado de Los Ángeles / Condado de Los Ángeles
SÍ a la Medida RR: Bono de $ 7B para LAUSD / Ciudad de Los Ángeles


Proposición 16: Un voto para permitir la consideración de raza, sexo, color, etnia u origen nacional para abordar la diversidad en el empleo público, la contratación y la educación. 

Propuestas 17 y 18: Votos para incrementar el acceso al voto.

Medida J (Condado de Los Ángeles): Un voto para desmantelar el racismo sistémico mediante la inversión en salud, vivienda y empleos.

Medida RR (Los Ángeles): Un voto para mejorar las escuelas del LAUSD y aumentar la seguridad escolar

 

View in English
PAGADO POR HEAL THE BAY



As the sun sets on Coastal Cleanup Month, we are looking back with gratitude and appreciation for everyone who participated in a cleanup, helped us spread the word, raised funds, and joined a virtual event over the course of the month. At a time when it’s easy to feel isolated from one another, it is inspiring to see how we came together across the County, from summit to sea, to protect what we love.

A New Take on 2020

Heal the Bay has been the LA County coordinator for Coastal Cleanup Day for more than 30 years, and 2020 proved to be a completely different cleanup effort than years past. In an effort to prioritize the health and safety of the community, the re-imagined concept was expanded to become an entire month of individualized cleanups close to home and virtual programming to educate about the impacts of trash and pollution and how we can work together towards solutions. Our Heal the Bay Aquarium education team engaged 437 LAUSD students with virtual programming about protecting our watersheds. This was also the first year that we asked for volunteer fundraisers to support our clean water mission. Fundraising teams and individuals raised close to $2,000, and we are grateful for their support.

Each week of Coastal Cleanup Month focused on a different region, starting at the top of our mountains, working through our neighborhoods & waterways, and culminating at our wetlands & beaches. The weekly programming featured a series of panels, webinars, and Instagram Lives with partner organizations that explored the various community and environmental issues facing Los Angeles County. 

None of this would have been possible without our Coastal Cleanup Month sponsors, and we would like to thank Water for LA, Blue Shield, K-Swiss, Ford, and West Basin Municipal Water District for their support.

2020 Impact

This year, we set a goal of collecting 31,000 pieces of trash throughout the month of September. Thanks to our dedicated Regional Ambassadors and 2,334 registered cleanup volunteers, we surpassed this goal with a total of 40,101 pieces of trash collected!

The top 10 items found across Los Angeles County in the month of September were:

Download our full Coastal Cleanup Month Wrap-Up Book for 2020

The Effects of PPE and the Pandemic on Our Environment

Coastal Cleanup Month was the first initiative of this scale to track the impact of the improper disposal of single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) in LA County. In the first year of tracking this item, PPE was one of the top 10 items found by our volunteers, surpassing common items like glass bottles. 

Through our data, we can clearly see the effects of the pandemic on our waste stream. Another observation is that people are relying more than ever on takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining at beaches, parks, and other public spaces. Disposable foodware accessories like utensils, straws, and takeout containers were some of the most common items found during cleanups.

The Plastic Problem

Looking at the data collected throughout Coastal Cleanup Month, it’s obvious that single-use plastic is the top offender. From utensils and straws to takeout containers and grocery bags, our lives are filled with plastic – and so is our environment. Unfortunately, the effects of COVID-19 have worsened these single-use habits and curbed a lot of progress that we’ve seen in Los Angeles over the last several years. 

Plastic grocery bags were a common item found during cleanups until California became the first state in the nation to impose a statewide bag ban in 2014. Before the pandemic hit, we were making great strides in reducing our single-use plastic waste. We could bring our reusable bags to the grocery store and refill our reusable coffee cups at Starbucks, and our environment and community were all the better for it. Now, plastic producers are using the pandemic to push disposable plastics as a safer option, a position that has no scientific merit. They were able to undo the work of the state bag ban, and grocery stores statewide have not only reintroduced single-use plastic bags, but many have banned reusable bags from entering stores. This year, we saw plastic grocery bags, cups, and lids in the top 10 items found by our volunteers during Coastal Cleanup Month.  

We also found that other than cigarette butts and PPE, the top 10 items are all food and drink-related. With the increasing reliance on takeout and delivery, plastic cutlery and other accessories are becoming a bigger and bigger issue. Restaurants often throw these items in takeout bags regardless of whether the customer needs them or not. To put this in perspective, 40 billion plastic utensils are thrown away each year in the United States. Plastic foodware items, like straws, utensils, and condiment packets cannot be recycled, so they are destined to end up in a landfill, incinerator, or polluting our oceans and communities.

How Can You Help?

Plastic pollution may seem like something that is out of your control. However, there are easy ways you can help make waves of change, from using reusable products when you can to supporting environmental legislation. Here are 3 easy ways to make a change:

  • Go reusable!

From grocery bags and utensils to water bottles and coffee cups, there are reusable replacements for almost all single-use plastics. Check out our Heal the Bay Shop for some ideas! If you’re ordering takeout or delivery, make sure to tell the restaurant “no plastic, please!” and use your own utensils instead. Check out Reusable LA and Habits of Waste for easy ways to help combat this issue, like sending an email to third party delivery companies asking them to make plastic cutlery and accessories optional rather than the default. If you’re unsure where to start, conduct a home waste audit to evaluate your daily habits and see where you can replace single-use items with reusables.

  • Pack it out. 

As a result of limited staff and the increased need to sanitize the bathrooms as a result of COVID-19, Los Angeles County Beaches & Harbors only has the capacity to empty the public trash cans once a day. Combined with the surge of beachgoers picnicking on the sand, this has led to an overwhelming problem of overflowing trash cans and increased beach litter. Similar issues have been observed throughout the County, so if you are enjoying our public spaces, make sure that all trash gets disposed of properly, and pack it out if trash cans are full.

  • Use your voice. 

Every single person has power! You influence the people close to you by voicing your opinion, you influence companies with the purchases you choose to make, and you can influence policy and legislation with your vote. The California bag ban is a good example of local change leading the charge and turning into statewide change, so don’t underestimate the power of advocating at your local City Council or with the County Board of Supervisors. At its core, plastic pollution is not a consumer problem; it’s a producer problem, and you can use your voice to support plastic policies that make plastic producers responsible for the waste they create.

Get Involved with Heal the Bay

We are excited with the results of Coastal Cleanup Month, but protecting our watersheds and coastline is an everyday effort. There are ways you can continue to stay involved and support our clean water mission year-round with different programs like Adopt-a-Beach, Club Heal the Bay, and MPA Watch. If you’re ready for more action to protect our oceans, join our virtual Volunteer Orientation on October 12. And don’t forget to save the date in September 2021 for next year’s Coastal Cleanup efforts!

 



A note from Heal the Bay President & CEO, Dr. Shelley Luce

SoCalGas has supported Heal the Bay’s programs since 1991. For nearly 30 years they have helped to fund our student curriculum, beach cleanup efforts, and bring students to our aquarium.

It’s never been a problem before. We rely on the philanthropy of companies and individuals to uphold our mission: protect California’s coasts and watersheds, and make them safe, healthy, and clean. We have never allowed any corporate contributor to influence our advocacy, and we never will.

However, after great consideration and consultation with my team, I have made the difficult decision to stop accepting contributions from SoCalGas from this point forward.

Turning down funding is never an easy decision, but it is a particularly difficult time for me to make this announcement. As President of an organization that employs close to 40 people in a year when many of us are forced to tighten our belts, it was not easy, but I know that it is the right thing to do.

In order to mitigate climate change, we must transition to renewable energy systems across the board – including the electricity, transportation, residential and industrial sectors, and we must do so swiftly. Sea level rise, ocean acidification, extreme heat, wildfires, and drought will all be more severe unless we drastically reduce our production and consumption of natural gas and, at the same time, prioritize and invest in nature-based projects that sequester carbon and cool our cities. Such projects include living streets, wetland restoration, and the creation of parks that capture and treat stormwater. The intentional obstruction of these goals will have severe consequences, which will be most devastating to frontline communities locally and around the world. We demand a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels now.

Several recent investigations by the Los Angeles Times have brought to light that SoCalGas is not a good-faith partner in our critical effort to enact sensible climate systems in California. They have sued the state of California to obstruct climate policy and used ratepayer money to evade safety protocols and lobby for the expansion of gas consumption.

This behavior has made it clear that SoCalGas will not take the actions necessary to phase down the consumption and distribution of gas unless they are compelled to do so. It is up to us as an environmental advocacy group to hold them and our public officials accountable so that we continue our progress towards meeting our climate goals. That is why we joined the Los Angeles City Council meeting this morning, to give public comment in support of Councilmembers Bonin, Lee and Koretz in their call for a feasibility study to explore options for the closure of the Playa Del Rey Gas Storage Facility.

We support the feasibility study for three reasons:

  1. Its long-term existence stands counter to the urgent need to address the Climate Crisis.
  2. The Gas Storage Facility is located in a densely-populated area of our city, making it a health and safety risk to the communities of Playa Del Rey, Westchester, Marina Del Rey, Playa Vista and beyond.
  3. It abuts the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve, affecting native species and endangered wildlife.

The Playa Del Rey facility stores gas that is used by the Chevron refinery and coastal power plants that deliver electricity to homes across the LA area. It is up to all of us to reflect on our personal consumption habits and do everything in our power to reduce our impact. It is up to our political leaders to regulate the fossil fuel industry and guide us to a renewable-powered, climate-stabilized future.

We would like to thank SoCalGas for their decades of support and ask that they change course to meet the urgent demands of the climate crisis.

Shelley Luce

 

 

 



Heal the Bay’s MPA Watch and Outreach Associate, Heather Leigh Curtis, breaks down the science behind pollution bioaccumulation in marine ecosystems, and how local anglers can safely consume fish.

The first time that I was told that the skin of fish caught near Los Angeles could be toxic to eat, the scientist in me was intrigued. Because it is said that fish’s skin can become a “reservoir for toxins,” I wondered if that were additionally true for human skin and I wanted to know what biological mechanisms allowed fish skin to perform this weird function. Perhaps toxins in the water absorb and accumulate in the fish skin? Let’s dive in and investigate. 

The toxins in question here are various molecules known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which include the chemicals (DDT) and (PCBs)DDT is an industrial pesticide, and is no longer allowed in the US. PCBs can be found in today’s electrical equipment, but used to be very common and found in insulation, coolants, adhesives, ink, pesticides, and other products. POPs are known for their long-term resistance to decomposition, also known as persistence, as well as their organic nature that allows them to accumulate in the bodies of plants and animals.  

There are many well-documented health and cultural benefits for eating fish, and POPs do not prevent locallycaught fish from being beneficial, but their presence means that local anglers need to be mindful with the types of fish they eat and how they prepare them. Los Angeles is home to many subsistence anglers who rely on fishing for their main source of protein, and these communities are the most vulnerable to POPs.  

It is unfair to ask anglers to change their behavior to protect themselves from pollution that they had no part in creating, and this is a direct example of an environmental justice issue. Where pollution goes is a calculated decision corporations and lawmakers make, and those decision-makers are fully aware of the impacts of those decisions. While POPs are a global concern, it is clear that the majority of public health impacts from this pollution, including cancer and reproductive disorders, are disproportionately experienced by frontline communitieswhich are comprised largely of BIPOC and people of lower socio-economic status.

So, how did these pollutants get in the environment in the first place? 

POPs are a result of local contamination of LA’s sediment, soil, and groundwater. The largest example in LCounty was caused by the Montrose Chemical Corporation, near Torrance. From the 1940s to the 1970s, this factory manufactured DDT and disposed of its waste, including DDT and PCBs, into the sewer system for 28 years, which at the time, released directly into the ocean without treatment. Hundreds of tons of DDT and PCBs were released into the ocean off the Palos Verdes PeninsulaWhile the manufacturing and untreated disposal of DDT has been banned in the United States, the molecule itself still persists in our local water and seafood.  

Now, back to the question about fish skin. POPs are a particular threat in fish because marine and freshwater ecosystems are significant reservoirs for persistent pollutants. POPs are brought to aquatic locations by runoff, wind, or other means, and they stay in those ecosystems sequestered in organic sediments. These sediments are sometimes known as “sinks” because they can harbor POPs for hundreds of years.

These POPs are brought into the food chain by bottom feeding fish. Pollutants accumulate up the food chain, concentrating to levels that can be thousands of times higher than in the water around themotherwise known as bioaccumulationIn addition, plastic pollution is widespread, and further exacerbates the issue. If microplastics are present in the water, POPs adhere to the plastic, concentrate further, and lead to the risk of even higher concentrations of POPs entering the food chain. 

Fish mainly absorb POPs from sediment. Bottom feeding fish stir up sediment to find food, absorbing POPs through their food and digestive tracts as well as their gillsOnce inside the body, POPs dissolve into the fish’s fat for long-term storage. Normal fat stores in fish (and in humans) are located in the liver and the subcutaneous fat, which is the layer of fat directly under the skin. That said, it’s not technically the skin of the fish that stores the pollutants, but the layer of fat just below the skin. When eating potentially contaminated fish, removing the fish skin also removes this layer of fat where the POPs are stored. And that’s why it is recommended to skin certain types of fish caught in LA before eating. 

How does this relate to Heal the Bay? 

Heal the Bay’s Angler Outreach Program educates pier and shore anglers in Los Angeles and Orange County about the risks of consuming fish contaminated with DDT and PCBs. Created in 2003, the program 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. 

What can we do about this pollution? 

Los Angeles is taking measures to reduce pollution. It’s nearly impossible to remove POPs from our environment and wildlife, so the goal is to stop any more from entering. The next storm drain permit, also known as the municipal sperate storm sewer system (MS4) permit, could be strong enough to enforce and reduce local pollution via the regulation of industrial discharge of wastewater into storm drains. A recent supreme court decision  reinforced MS4 permit regulatory standards. 

Individually, the best first step is to educate yourself on which fish are safe to catch and eat   in Los Angeles and how to prepare them safely. To advoate for clean water, you can contact your local water board and share your support for a simple, transparent, measurable, and enforceable MS4 permit that reduces the amount of new pollutants that enter our environment. Read our recent blog on the MS4 permit to learn more and sign up to stay updated on MS4 calls to action.  


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