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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Water Quality

For the sixth straight summer, Heal the Bay is posting daily water quality predictions for California Beaches on our Beach Report Card with NowCast.

A day at the beach should not make anyone sick. That’s why health officials across the state sample water at the beach weekly during the summer. And when officials detect high levels of bacteria, they issue a public health advisory.

The good news: by measuring the amount of bacteria in the water and sharing information with the public in real time, we can help you decide when and where it’s safest to go to the beach. Plus, it raises awareness about ocean pollution and brings much-needed attention to solving systemic waste and runoff issues.

The bad news: weekly samples aren’t enough. Water quality can fluctuate drastically from day to day, with real implications for people’s health. Heal the Bay believes that we need daily samples in order to better protect public health. In 2015, we launched our NowCast program within the Beach Report Card. NowCast supplements the weekly grades provided by public health officials by bringing accurate daily predictions to the public.

NowCast is able to predict concentrations of bacteria in the water on a daily basis, filling in the time gap of weekly bacteria sampling. NowCast consists of computer models that examine correlations between environmental conditions (such as temperature and tide) and historical bacteria concentrations. Our models then predict how much bacteria could be present in the water given the current local conditions at the beach.

NowCast predictions appear on the Beach Report Card with the symbols seen below. A Blue “W+” symbol indicates that there is a low risk of illness by coming in contact with the water, and a Red “W-” symbol indicates that there is a high risk of illness by coming in contact with the water.

Good Water Quality

Poor Water Quality

Head to beachreportcard.org to find daily predictions for over 25 beaches across California. Or download the free app on your iOS or Android device to get daily predictions on-the-go.

List of Beaches With Daily NowCast Water Quality Predictions

  • Ocean Beach (Balboa St.), San Francisco
  • Ocean Beach (Lincoln Way), San Francisco
  • Candlestick Point (Windsurfer Circle), San Francisco – NEW
  • Main Beach (Boardwalk), Santa Cruz County
  • Leo Carrillo, Los Angeles County – NEW
  • Will Rogers (Temescal Canyon), Los Angeles County
  • Will Rogers (Santa Monica Canyon), Los Angeles County
  • Santa Monica (Pico Ave.), Los Angeles County – NEW
  • Venice Beach Pier, Los Angeles County
  • Dockweiler/Toes Beach, Los Angeles County
  • El Porto, Los Angeles County – NEW
  • Manhattan Beach (28th St.), Los Angeles County
  • Hermosa Beach Pier, Los Angeles County – NEW
  • Redondo Breakwater, Los Angeles County
  • Redondo Beach Pier, Los Angeles County
  • Torrance Beach (Avenue I), Los Angeles County – NEW
  • Long Beach (72nd Place), Los Angeles County
  • Seal Beach (1st), Orange County – NEW
  • Seal Beach Pier, Orange County
  • Huntington Beach (Brookhurst St.), Orange County
  • Newport Beach (52nd), Orange County – NEW
  • Newport Beach (38th), Orange County
  • Aliso Creek Outlet, Orange County – NEW
  • Monarch Beach (Salt Creek Outlet), Orange County – NEW
  • Doheny State Beach, Orange County
  • San Clemente Pier (Lifeguard Tower), Orange County

Don’t see your beach on the map? We’re working on it! Predicting water quality is complex and we want to make sure we get it right. This means we need access to a myriad of data sources in order to make accurate predictions, and when data are not readily available, we can’t make the prediction.

If you’re looking to help monitor and improve the water quality at your favorite beach spots, here’s a few things you can do:

  • Advocate at town halls and city council meetings for increased funding toward ocean and environmental data observation, collection, standardization, and analysis programs.
  • Support Heal the Bay’s staff scientists efforts to expand monitoring programs and directly fund our work.
  • Stay informed about your local water quality and reach out to your representatives in California demanding improvements be made to protect public health and our natural environment.

If you can’t find daily NowCast predictions in your area, you can still see the latest water quality grades issued to over 500 beaches on the Beach Report Card Website. In the meantime, we are working to improve and expand the NowCast system so check back frequently to see if your favorite beach has water quality predictions.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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.


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

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

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

What do the EPA rollbacks mean?

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

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

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

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

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

What are people doing about these rollbacks?

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

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

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

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

How you can help!

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Shelley Luce
President and CEO

 

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

 

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We’re celebrating International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month by shining the spotlight on five environmentalists who inspire us.

Women of color are impacted by environmental issues like water pollution and climate change impacts at disproportionate rates as a result of systemic inequity and injustice.1 Racism and a lack of access to education, economic status, and health resources often leave women and people of color out of the conversations and decisions that impact them the most, specifically about land use, natural resources, and environmental policy.

Despite these challenges, women of color continue to create powerful and lasting change in their own communities and abroad.

We thank the environmentalists and activists who continue to fight for what is right despite facing opposition for their bold ideas and for simply being who they are. Women and girls are leaders in their communities and agents of change. Supporting and listening to them will benefit the health of our planet and people for generations to come.

Get to know five environmentalists who have an inspiring legacy of activism.

Wangari Maathai (1940 – 2011), Kenya

Founder of the Green Belt Movement, which has planted over 51 million trees, Professor Maathai focused on environmental conservation and women’s rights. She studied biology in her undergraduate and graduate school programs and later won the Nobel Peace Prize for her vast contributions to sustainable development.

 

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Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores (1971 – 2016), Honduras

Berta Cáceres was an indigenous environmental justice activist and grassroots leader who created the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH) in Honduras. She fought courageously against illegal and harmful mining and logging as well as the construction of a dam that would cut off water, food and medicine for the indigenous Lenca people. Cáceres Flores was tragically murdered in 2016, sparking international outrage. The Cáceres family continues to demand justice for this corrupt violation of human rights. 2

 

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Isatou Ceesay (b. 1972), The Gambia

Isatou Ceesay is known as the Queen of Recycling in The Gambia, and rightfully so. Though she was kept from finishing school, she created the Njai Recycling and Income Generation Group, which turns plastic bag waste into purses, creating revenue streams for local women. Ceesay also educates and empowers women through environmental advocacy.

 

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Winona LaDuke (b. 1959), White Earth Indian Reservation

Founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project and Honor the Earth, LaDuke is an environmentalist and political activist with Indigenous communities. She focuses on sustainable development, renewable energy, climate change, and environmental justice. The White Earth Land Recovery Project is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the United States dedicated to recovering original land and maintaining tribal food, water, and energy rights. Follow Winona on Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Vanessa Nakate (b. 1996), Uganda

Vanessa Nakate founded The Rise Up Movement and uses her voice and platform to share stories about activists in Africa who are striking due to inaction against the climate crisis. Recently, she spoke at the COP25 event in Spain (the United Nations Climate Change Conference) and joined dozens of youth climate activists from around the world to publish a letter to attendees of the World Economic Forum in Davos urging them to take immediate steps to prevent further harm. Follow Vanessa on Twitter and Instagram.

 

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About the author: Mariana Estrada is a digital advocacy intern at Heal the Bay. She grew up in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles where she enjoys a lively community of close-knit families and great food. She became interested in environmental issues like air quality at an unusually young age due to living in the city. Estrada’s area of focus is combining humanities and environmental issues to create effective and meaningful storytelling that renders real results. She studies English Literature and double-minors in Environmental Systems and Society and Environmental Engineering at UCLA.

1 Gender and climate change-induced migration: Proposing a framework for analysis. Author Namrata Chindarkar. Published by School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, College Park, USA. Published on 22 June 2012. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/254496452_Gender_and_climate_change-induced_migration_Proposing_a_framework_for_analysis
2 Berta Cáceres: 2015 Goldman Prize Recipient South and Central America. Published by The Goldman Environmental Prize. Retrieved from https://www.goldmanprize.org/recipient/berta-caceres/



 

Nos enfrentamos a las mayores amenazas para la bahía utilizando El Poder del Agua en 2020. Los siguientes tres objetivos son las áreas clave para este año:

 

Grito de alarma por el cambio climático

Qué estamos haciendo: Mitigando los impactos del cambio climático que alteran la vida empoderando a los ciudadanos a tomar mejores decisiones para crear un futuro sostenible y equitativo.

Cómo lo estamos haciendo: El agua es el área donde muchos notarán primero los efectos del cambio climático: la accesibilidad del agua en un clima cambiante es fundamental.

Examinamos detalladamente los planes de reutilización de aguas residuales de la ciudad de L.A., así como proyectos locales de captación de agua lluvia, para asegurarnos de que sean justos y efectivos. Y en el Acuario de Heal the Bay involucramos al público para tomar acciones diarias — como nuestra iniciativa “Una comida al día por el océano” — para mitigar las temperaturas extremas, la acidificación de los océanos y el aumento del nivel del mar.


Proteger la salud pública con programas de educación científica y comunitaria

Qué estamos haciendo: Protegiendo la salud pública a través de programas de educación científica y comunitaria sobre pesca y aguas contaminadas en playas y ríos de LA.

Cómo lo estamos haciendo: Extendiendo el alcance y rigor científico de nuestros programas como “Informe de playas”, “Informe de ríos” y “Educación pesquera” (Beach Report Card, River Report Card y Angler Outreach, por sus siglas en ingles) para incrementar el compromiso comunitario e institucional en temas que afectan directamente a la salud pública. Nuestro enfoque es en la contaminación, acceso, uso recreacional y consumo de pescado. Abogamos también por fuertes protecciones de calidad de agua y para mejorar las herramientas de concientización pública en las comunidades más afectadas.


Prohibir definitivamente el plástico de un solo uso

Qué estamos haciendo: Eliminando los desechos plásticos nocivos de nuestras playas y sistemas fluviales y restaurando la vitalidad de nuestro océano y cuencas hidrográficas.

Cómo lo estamos haciendo: Se necesita un cambio drástico en el uso del plástico de un solo uso porque menos del 10% es reciclado y el resto acaba en vertederos y entornos naturales. Estamos estableciendo una nueva campaña llamada “LA reutilizable” para fomentar una próspera cultura de reutilización y recarga en el condado de L.A., alentando de esta forma a la gente y negocios a no usar plástico y apoyar políticas que prohíban los plásticos desechables en el condado de LA y en todo California.


Únete

Haz voluntariado con nosotross

Contribuye a limpiar una playa

Visita nuestro Acuario

Dona

 


Este artículo fue traducido por Beatriz Lorenzo Botella y editado por Frankie Orrala.

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2019 ha sido una temporada legislativa emocionante en California. Desde proyectos de ley en torno al plástico que nos mueven incesantemente hacia una cultura de reaprovechamiento, hasta mejoras en el acceso costero para todos los californianos. Nuestro gobierno estatal ha logrado grandes avances en la aprobación de leyes ambientales. Heal the Bay ha estado abogando y siguiendo atentamente las proposiciones ambientales más importantes del 2019, y estamos entusiasmados con algunos de los avances que se han realizado este año.

Echemos un vistazo a los ganadores (y perdedores) del 2019.

De las miles de propuestas de ley presentadas a principios de este año, solo 1042 llegaron hasta el despacho del gobernador, de las cuales 870 fueron aprobadas y firmadas por el gobernador Newsom convirtiéndolas en ley. Entre ellas se encuentran algunas muy importantes como la Proposición AB 619, conocida también como Proposición BYO. Esta Proposición, presentada por el asambleísta Chiu, clarifica el lenguaje del código de salud pública en relación a los envases reutilizables, que facilita a los consumidores llevar sus propios envases a sus locales y restaurantes favoritos. Esta Proposición permite también que puestos de comida, como los que encontramos en ferias y festivales, usen utensilios reutilizables en lugar de desechables de un solo uso (que eran requeridos antes de que esta Proposición se aprobara). Esta Proposición reducirá enormemente los residuos en eventos temporales y podrás rellenar tu contenedor reutilizable donde vayas, ¡incluso en las “loncheras” (food trucks) y puestos de comida!.

El gobernador Newsom también aprobó la Proposición AB 1680 del asambleísta Limón y la convirtió en ley. Esta ley permitirá desarrollar un programa de acceso a las playas de Hollister Ranch, un área de 8.5 millas de costa que actualmente no tiene acceso público. Esta decisión trascendental permitirá el acceso público a estas playas tan especiales de Santa Barbara y es a la vez una gran victoria para todos los californianos.

Fumar en las playas del condado de Los Angeles se prohibió hace años, pero este no era el caso para el resto de California. El gobernador Newsom firmó el Proyecto de ley del Senado SB 8 (Senador Glazer) y lo convirtió en ley, por lo que ahora es ilegal fumar en cualquier playa o parque estatal en todo el estado. Las colillas de cigarros son los objetos más tirado y causan un enorme daño al medioambiente. Están hechas de plástico y cientos de sustancias químicas, son contaminantes y muy notorias en nuestras playas, parques y vías acuáticas. Esta Proposición ayudará a reducir esta basura tan común, y protegerá la salud de los visitantes de playas y parques.

Más Proposiciones que fueron aprobadas este año incluyen:

  • AB 65 – Protección costera y adaptación climática (infraestructura natural)
  • AB 209 – Programa de becas del patrimonio al aire libre
  • AB 762 – Aviso de salud sobre el consumo de mariscos
  • AB 834 – Programa sobre proliferación de algas nocivas
  • AB 912 – Manejo de especies marinas invasoras
  • AB 948 – Programa de conservación de Coyote Valley
  • AB 936 – Respuesta a derrames de petróleo – petróleo no flotante
  • AB 1162 – Prohibición de envases plásticos en hoteles para productos de cuidado personal
  • AB 1583 – Legislación sobre el desarrollo del mercado de reciclaje de California
  • SB 367 – Asistencia Técnica para proyectos y programas educacionales de conservación costera estatal
  • SB 576 – Programa de preparación climática

Aunque la aprobación de estas Proposiciones es un éxito enorme, no todas las propuestas ambientales fueron aprobadas.

El gobernador Newsom vetó la Proposición AB 792 (asambleísta Ting), una Proposición sobre el contenido de plástico reciclado que habría aumentado la cantidad de plástico reciclado usado para producir botellas de bebidas de plástico. Aunque el gobernador apoya este tipo de normativa, la Proposición fue considerada costosa para el Estado, y por eso no se aprobó. Heal the Bay y asociados esperan resolver los problemas de esta Proposición y poder presentar una versión mejorada el próximo año.

También vetado por el gobernador fue el Proyecto de ley del Senado SB 1 (Senador Atkins), una propuesta que habría promulgado la ley de defensa del medioambiente, la salud pública y los trabajadores de California de 2019. Esta legislación habría asegurado las protecciones laborales obtenidas bajo leyes federales, y también que las leyes y regulaciones medioambientales a partir de Enero de 2017 (como la ley de agua limpia o la ley de especies en peligro de extinción) hubiesen permanecido en orden en California en caso de cambios en las regulaciones federales. Básicamente habría sido un seguro medioambiental y de salud pública para prevenir recortes a nivel federal. El gobernador Newsom vetó este Proyecto de ley por discrepancias sobre su eficacia y necesidad. Heal the Bay apoya medidas como las propuestas en la SB 1 ya que son críticas para proteger los recursos naturales de nuestro estado. Desafortunadamente fue vetada.

Finalmente, el Proyecto de Ley del Senado SB 54 (Senador Allen) y la Proposición AB 1080 (asambleísta Gonzalez), también conocida como la Ley de economía circular y reducción de contaminación por plástico de California. Estas relevantes propuestas llegaron muy lejos, pero los arreglos de última hora y nueva oposición hicieron que no llegasen al plazo para ser aprobadas este año. Pero nada de nervios, la lucha no se ha terminado. Estos Proyectos serán elegibles para votacion a partir de Enero del 2020, y Heal the Bay y otros partidarios (¡todos y cada uno de los 426000!) continuarán luchando para que se aprueben estos Proyectos de ley para reducir integralmente la basura desechable y prevenir la contaminación por plástico en el Estado de California.

¿Tienes preguntas sobre nuestro trabajo de apoyo en Heal the Bay? ¿Te interesa saber qué Proposiciones son por las que estamos luchamos (a favor o en contra)? Síguenos en redes sociales (InstagramTwitterFacebook), y contacta a nuestro equipo de Ciencia y Leyes!.


Este artículo fue traducido por Beatriz Lorenzo Botella y editado por Frankie Orrala.

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first flush november 2019 heal the bay
Recent ‘first flushes’ from around LA in November 2019. From left to right: Long Beach (by Jim LaVally), Santa Monica (by Katherine Pease), Ballona Creek (by Patrick Tyrrell).

As winter rains quench the LA region, local stormwater pollution issues surface and wreak havoc on water quality. Heal the Bay releases its first-ever Stormwater Reporta groundbreaking assessment of how well stormwater pollution is being managed in Los Angeles County. 

Heal the Bay’s groundbreaking new Stormwater Report examines progress, or lack thereof, in stormwater pollution reduction efforts in LA County. We reviewed data from 12 watershed management groups who are responsible for implementing stormwater projects. Despite our region having had nearly 30 years to address stormwater pollution, and six years to execute the latest version of these plans, we found that, as of December 2018, the responsible groups that we looked at are only about 9% complete toward final goals. If the current rate of implementation continues, Los Angeles County groups will achieve their total collective goal in 2082, well past final deadlines ranging from 2021 to 2037.

Some areas have fast-approaching deadlines to meet strict stormwater pollution reduction limits. Yet many local cities are drastically behind, resulting in continued poor water quality across our region. Our report also reveals that monitoring and enforcing stormwater pollution is made more difficult by a lack of transparent reporting requirements and processes.

“Stormwater has the potential to be a wonderful resource for water supply, recreation, and so much more. But right now, it is more of a hazard polluting our waterways. We need to step up cleanup efforts if we are to see water quality improvements in our lifetimes. We should not have to wait 60 years for clean water,” says Annelisa Moe, Water Quality Scientist at Heal the Bay and lead author of the Stormwater Report.

Here are some of the major findings:

  • The Ballona Creek Watershed Management Group is 3.58% complete toward its final goal – their stormwater management projects can now capture 74.58 acre-feet of stormwater for treatment, out of their intended target of 2,081 acre-feet by 2021. (This group includes the Cities of Beverly Hills, Culver City, Inglewood, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood; Unincorporated County of Los Angeles; and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District.) Learn more on page A-3.
  • The Upper LA River Watershed Management Group is 2.72% complete toward its final goal – their stormwater management projects that can now capture 141.28 acre-feet of stormwater out of their intended target of 5,191 acre-feet by 2037. (This group includes the Cities of Alhambra, Burbank, Calabasas, Glendale, Hidden Hills, La Cañada Flintridge, Los Angeles, Montebello, Monterey Park, Pasadena, Rosemead, San Fernando, San Gabriel, San Marino, South El Monte, South Pasadena, and Temple City; Unincorporated County of Los Angeles; and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District.) Learn more on page A-57.
  • The Santa Monica Bay Jurisdictions 2 & 3 Watershed Management Group is 6.50% complete toward its final goal – their stormwater management projects can now capture 22.61 acre-feet of stormwater out of their intended target of 348.1 acre-feet by 2021. (This group includes the Cities of El Segundo, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica; Unincorporated County of Los Angeles; and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District.) Learn more on page A-51.
  • The Malibu Creek Watershed Management Group is 0.36% complete toward its final goal – their stormwater management projects can now capture 0.35 acre-feet of stormwater for treatment out of their intended target of 96.3 acre-feet by 2032. (This group includes the Cities of Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, and Westlake Village; Unincorporated County of Los Angeles; and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District.) Learn more on page A-21.
  • Some good news: The Dominguez Channel Watershed Management Group is 60.06% complete toward its final goal – their stormwater management projects can now capture 771.39 acre-feet of stormwater out of their intended target of 1,284.30 acre-feet by 2032. This means that the Dominguez Channel Watershed management group is on track to reach their final goal before the deadline passes, assuming that the rate of implementation continues. This success is due to large regional projects completed in the Machado Lake area. (This group includes the Cities of Carson, El Segundo, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lomita, and Los Angeles; Unincorporated County of Los Angeles; and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District.) Learn more on page A-15.

Progress report on local areas:
The graphic above is an overall aassessment of progress for each of the 12 watershed management groups, based on either total retention capacity in acre feet (AF) or total area addressed (acres). Each grey bar represents the final goal for each group, labelled with the final deadline to reach this goal. The orange portion of the bar represents the retention capacity of projects completed since the 2012 Los Angeles County MS4 Permit was approved, as a percentage of the total goal. Interim targets, when provided, are displayed with red vertical lines as a percentage of the total goal, and labeled with the relevant interim deadline year. A final goal was not provided in the Rio Hondo group, so progress cannot be displayed. Only an interim goal was provided in the Beach Cities group, so the final goal was uncertain, identified with a dashed line above.

While our Stormwater Report points out critical issues, we also offer solutions. We recommend clear and measurable guidelines regulators can adopt to strengthen the ability of watershed management groups to reduce stormwater pollution within their jurisdiction as quickly as possible. We also emphasize the importance of making stormwater pollution information readily available to the public, who are directly impacted by polluted waters (see more Recommendations on page 15).

So, what’s next? The LA County MS4 Permit, the primary mechanism for regulating city and county stormwater pollutant discharge, is up for renewal in early 2020. We are concerned that the MS4 Permit will be weakened and deadlines for stormwater pollution reduction goals will be extended, further delaying a much-needed cleanup of local waters. Simply put, groups must be held accountable when they are not on track.

Fortunately, there is new funding available to improve stormwater project implementation. Funding from the Safe, Clean Water Program will be allocated throughout LA County starting in spring 2020, increasing available funding for stormwater projects by approximately $280 million per year. This will more than double the annual amount spent by municipalities on stormwater projects in LA County. This revenue can be further leveraged with a variety of other sources to fund multi-benefit stormwater projects.

With long-term plans in place and new funding opportunities at hand, the approval of a strong 2020 LA County MS4 Permit will lead to more stormwater projects moving forward. Better stormwater management will significantly improve water quality throughout LA County, protecting both public and environmental health, while also providing multiple additional benefits to LA communities such as a new water supply, improved air quality, and climate resiliency.

“The power of local water in LA can only be realized if we protect and clean this precious resource,” says Dr. Shelley Luce, Heal the Bay’s CEO.

 

DOWNLOAD STORMWATER REPORT

DOWNLOAD PRESS RELEASE

MAKE A DONATION

 

Download Local Summaries

Ballona Creek Watershed Management Group
Beach Cities Watershed Management Group
Dominguez Channel Watershed Management Group
Malibu Creek Watershed Management Group
Marina del Rey Watershed Management Group
North Santa Monica Bay Coastal Watersheds Management Group
Palos Verdes Peninsula Watershed Management Group
Rio Hondo / San Gabriel River Watershed Management Group
Santa Monica Bay Jurisdictions 2 & 3 Watershed Management Group
Upper Los Angeles River Watershed Management Group
Upper San Gabriel River Watershed Management Group
Upper Santa Clara River Watershed Management Group

 


We will keep you informed and may call on you to attend the MS4 Permit hearing in early 2020. To stay in the loop, sign up for Stormwater Pollution Action Alerts.

Stormwater Pollution Action Alerts

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