Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Press Release

Heal the Bay, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Los Angeles Waterkeeper have worked together to develop a “Vision 2045” report with bolder goals and recommendations for the County’s Safe, Clean Water Program.


Ladera Park is one of many successful greening projects funded by the Safe, Clean Water Program, but Los Angeles needs more stormwater projects to prepare our region for its future water needs. (Photo by Heal the Bay) 

In 2018, Los Angeles County residents passed a landmark funding measure (Measure W), which imposed a parcel tax on impervious surfaces to fund stormwater projects to increase local water supply, improve water quality, and provide community benefits through the Safe, Clean Water Program (SCWP). With an annual budget of approximately $280 million, the SCWP has the potential to transform how Los Angeles County manages stormwater, prioritizing climate resilience and community health and well-being.

The SCWP is currently undergoing its first official assessment through the County’s Biennial Review process, offering an opportunity to assess progress, reflect on the achievement of goals, set targets, and make recommendations.   Numerous water quality deadlines have passed in an environment that is becoming hotter and less hospitable and frontline communities are bearing the brunt of those impacts. Therefore, despite numerous successes in its first four years, it has become evident that to meet future ambitions, a clear and realistic roadmap is required.   It is now clear that the SCWP must be even bolder in its goals, targets, and timelines to accelerate the equitable transformation of LA County to greener, more local water self-sufficient and climate-prepared communities. 

That is why Heal the Bay, along with our partners at Natural Resources Defense Council and LA Waterkeeper, representing three of the LA region’s leading water advocacy organizations, shared a new report with LA County decision-makers tasked with overseeing the ambitious SCWP.

Vision 2045: Thriving in a Hotter and Drier LA County through Local Stormwater Capture and Pollutant Reduction includes bolder goals, targets, and recommendations for the SCWP on water supply, water quality, equity, science, finance, and policy.  The report is intended to catalyze County efforts to ensure the Safe, Clean Water Program reaches its goals more quickly and definitively. The timing of the release of this document corresponds with the December 7th meeting of the Regional Oversight Committee on the Biennial Review as well as this week’s LA County Board of Supervisors approval of the LA County Water Plan that builds on their goal of 80% local water supplies by 2045.

Make The Most of Every Drop of Rain 

With climate change accelerating, one of the most cost-effective ways to ensure Angelenos will continue to have the water they need to thrive in the decades to come is to make the most of every drop of rain that falls. The groups that drafted this vision document note there is a real urgency to ensure the Safe, Clean Water Program is implemented in a way that is both effective and equitable. Among other goals, it calls for a target of an additional 300,000 acre-feet of stormwater to be captured and put to use every year by 2045. The document also calls on the county to aggressively reduce water pollution by complying with state deadlines, and ensure that at least 10% of projects in disadvantaged communities that are funded through the program are led by community-based organizations, to ensure robust community involvement.

Nature-Based Solutions 

The vision document also proposes a target of replacing 12,000 acres of impermeable surfaces with new green space by 2045: a nature-based solution that provides recreation, open space, public health benefits, and more. It calls for all schools located within the boundaries of state-defined disadvantaged communities to become green schools by 2030, with all LA County schools meeting that target no later than 2045. Vision 2045 also sets a target of developing an outreach plan to actively engage local tribes in program implementation by the end of next year.

Yes, 2045 is more than twenty years in the future and unforeseeable changes are ahead economically, environmentally, and politically (for better or worse).  Most policymakers and groups working on the program will have moved on and so the way to stay on target is to set realistic (but bold) milestones goals, targets, and timelines to stay on track and achieve safe, clean, water for all.

See our top-level goals, and additional recommendations in the full report.

Read the full Vision 2045 Report







Upholding its dedication to science-based advocacy, the environmental group Heal the Bay today announced Tracy Quinn as its new CEO. Quinn joins the Santa Monica-based nonprofit from the Natural Resources Defense Council, where she served as the Director of California Urban Water Policy.

During her tenure, Quinn was a widely respected voice on how communities and industries across California must respond to unprecedented drought by improving water efficiency and investing in climate resilient supplies through stormwater capture and recycled water. Her strong technical background and commitment to environmental equity are clear in her leadership in addressing emerging contaminants like PFAS, advocating for cost-effective strategies to improve water reliability, and partnering with frontline groups to protect low-income households from water shutoffs.

“I am honored and humbled to lead Heal the Bay into its next chapter as we tackle increasingly challenging environmental issues and work to ensure equitable outcomes for the communities in our watersheds,” Quinn said. “As California continues to adapt to a changing climate, Heal the Bay’s legacy of science-based activism makes it well suited to address the challenges in our region.”

As a Board Member of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Quinn pushes for bold actions to conserve and protect drinking water supplies for millions of people. She also served on the boards of The Wildwoods Foundation and the California Urban Water Conservation Council.

An extensive nationwide search culminated in the hiring of Quinn, who has been tasked with amplifying Heal the Bay’s science, advocacy, education, and community action programs. While focused on the organization’s core mission of clean water and healthy watersheds, she will implement strategies to deepen Heal the Bay’s engagement in solving the most critical environmental challenges in Greater Los Angeles.

Formed more than three decades ago as a local grassroots organization, Heal the Bay successfully led the fight to require Hyperion Plant to thoroughly treat sewage before releasing into the Santa Monica Bay, thereby protecting Southern California’s coast for the many people who rely on it. The region now has even bigger threats, from climate change to an uncertain water supply to an increasing amount of toxic legacy pollutants and plastics.

“Heal the Bay will always pursue protection of our public waters and fight against pollution. We have also transformed in recent years with inclusion-focused programs,” said Sharon Lawrence, chairperson of the organization’s Board of Directors. “Clean water is essential for our communities to survive and thrive, and Tracy is perfectly equipped to continue our important work.”

Quinn, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from Cornell University and is a registered civil engineer in California, began her water-centric career in Los Angeles at Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, an engineering firm that delivers innovative water solutions in the US.

Quinn plans to lead Heal the Bay in forming smart strategic alliances and growing public participation across the diverse region of Greater Los Angeles. In the coming months, Heal the Bay will extend its impact with these key initiatives:

Upgrade River Report Card. Heal the Bay is protecting public health by increasing access to science-based water quality information for ocean, river, and stream water users. The nonprofit is going through a rigorous process to enhance its River Report Card by aligning the freshwater grading methodology with scientific standards and the well-known Beach Report Card’s “A through F” grading system.

Build Inell Woods Park. The nonprofit group is addressing water quality and supply issues for the communities most impacted by climate change. For the first time ever, Heal the Bay is building a stormwater park in collaboration with LA City Councilman Curren Price Jr. and community members! The groundbreaking for the new community-designed, multi-benefit green space Inell Woods Park is planned in South LA this year.

Ban plastic pollution. Heal the Bay is launching an advocacy campaign, targeted at Southern California voters, in support of the statewide 2022 ballot measure (California Plastic Pollution Reduction and Recycling Act), to reduce plastic pollution in communities and aquatic environments. The passionate science and policy experts are also pushing the City of LA and LA County to greenlight comprehensive ordinances that address single-use plastic waste.

Quinn formally joins Heal the Bay on May 2, taking the leadership reins from Dr. Shelley Luce, who has served as president and CEO since April 2017.

“I am so proud to leave Heal the Bay in Tracy’s hands,” says Dr. Shelley Luce. “Her focus on strong, equitable water policy will take Heal the Bay’s environmental advocacy work to the next level.”

You can read a letter from Shelley Luce about the leadership transition at Heal the Bay.

“Shelley Luce began at Heal the Bay as a PhD student, grew as a scientific expert, and then led our organization as a trusted authority, coalition builder, role model, and mentor,” shares Sharon Lawrence. “Through the global pandemic she maintained operations and steered us through environmental and public health crises while keeping the public informed and engaged. The Santa Monica Bay and communities who use it are healthier and safer because of Shelley’s years at Heal the Bay.”