Big Rock Beach received an A+ in our most recent Beach Report Card—the highest grade a beach can get. Located in Malibu, about 8 ½ miles north of the Santa Monica Pier on PCH, Big Rock Beach has free parking and a coastal access stairway that leads down to the beach.
Lots of rocks mean you may see a tide pool or two, and with views up the coastline, it’s a great place to catch a sunset.
Why is it so Clean?
With less development than more urban shorelines, a largely natural landscape upstream, and only a single storm drain nearby, bacteria levels tend to be low at Big Rock Beach. For the same reasons, beaches in Malibu tend to fare better than beaches in more densely-populated areas, largely due to reduced urban runoff.
The beach is also what we call an “open ocean beach”, meaning it has good water circulation, so any pollutants that do enter the water are quickly flushed away from the shore by waves and currents.
Heal the Bay created The Beach Report Card more than 30 years ago, when beachgoers knew very little about the water quality at their favorite beaches, or the health risks of swimming in polluted waters. With weekly and annual water quality grades based on bacterial pollution for more than 700 beaches from Washington State all the way down to Tijuana, you can know before you go.
Find water quality grades for Big Rock Beach and any other beach you’d like to visit on our free website and app.
Written by Lindsey Jurca. To help keep the beach-going public safe, Heal the Bay created The Beach Report Card over 30 years ago. The Beach Report Card is an important and comprehensive public health tool, providing weekly and annual water quality grades based on bacterial pollution at over 700 beaches from Washington to Tijuana.
MPA Watch Reflections: Jasmine Islas spent her Spring 2022 MPA Watch Internship with Heal the Bay exploring the rabbit hole of factors impacting skewed representation at Los Angeles beaches. The dead end she arrived at points to important action items for the science community.
LIVING IN CALIFORNIA, I have been spoiled with the beauty and nature that it has. I was lucky that my family wanted to make sure that I relished the different experiences Southern California had to offer. Some of my earliest and fondest memories come from spending my day at the beach. The distance from where we lived to the beach that we frequented was about an hour, so we’d dedicate the entire day to staying there, ending the night with a bonfire. As I grew older, we went to the beach less and less because I was made aware of how far away it was and how much was spent to have a beach day. I felt guilty about how oblivious I was about how much my working-class family was spending so that my sister and I could have fun in the sun.
My visits to the beach led to a passion for marine science, which prompted me to pursue a degree in Biology. Coming from a working-class Hispanic household, I was spoiled and sheltered from what working in marine science would look like. I just assumed that when I would start networking and meeting people in the field I would see more people that looked like me, people with a brown complexion. What I have now come to realize is that the marine science community is dominated by my white counterparts, which caught me off guard. I was perplexed and wondered why that was.
This led me to question my choices in pursuing this field of study. I felt like I wouldn’t fit in or flourish as a scientist. I went down a rabbit hole of questions and research to try and see what the cause of this disconnect was. I ask myself what the root of this issue is.
To determine the reason for the lack of diversity in marine science, I thought it would be helpful to figure out the demographic of people coming to beaches in LA County. I believe that those who have easy access to beaches are more likely to care about coastal issues enough to pursue careers in them. At first glance, this seemed like it would be an easy question to answer with the help of a little research.
To my surprise, there is very little research conducted that focuses on beach access specific to LA County. The exception is a UCLA study called “Access for All; A New Generation’s Challenges on the California Coast” by Jon Christensen and Philip King. In the study, they surveyed 1,146 people that came to SoCal beaches over the summer of 2016. The beaches they focused on were located in Ventura County, Los Angeles County, and Orange County. While the study wasn’t centralized around LA county beaches, their findings were intriguing.
The scientists in this study collected demographic data including the average annual income of beachgoers and how frequently people visited the beach. The beaches with more affordable accommodations had a greater diversity of visitors in comparison to other neighboring beaches in Southern California. Those with a median household incomes greater than $60,000 are likely to come to the beach more frequently than households with an income of less than $40,000 a year.
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determined that an annual household income of $47,850 for 1 person living in Los Angeles County is considered low income. While these low income figures were published in 2011, it’s worth mentioning because that would mean that the people who come to the beach more often are outside that margin. This disproportionately impacts both Latino and African American communities in Los Angeles County.
Going to the beach isn’t affordable for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) communities. The Access for All study found that they face barriers of cost, lack of parking, and lack of public transportation. This is in addition to the intangible barriers that they face such as fear of judgment and discrimination when coming to the beach.
So, what now?
After seeing the absolute lack of published research into beach access, beach equity, and the barriers therein, I want everyone to know about this serious knowledge gap that needs to be filled to make change. Research into these topics IS science and the following questions CAN be sufficiently answered through rigorous, trustworthy, and peer-reviewed scientific investigation:
What science-based methods remove barriers to beach inclusivity and access?
What societal changes are needed to facilitate BIPOC individual interactions with our coastal ecosystems?
How can marine and ocean work be more accessible to BIPOC communities?
Without tangible evidence from a strong investment in rigorous scientific studies into beach equity, it makes it difficult for better policies to be put in place. It makes it harder for change to occur.
Our oceans face very challenging and complicated global threats that will need diverse minds to mitigate, and diverse support to fund and manage. Our oceans depend on us, and I for one, am eager to see more change makers that look like me, who feel a very real belonging in this role. After all, Dr. Jon Christensen and Dr. Philip King astutely observed during that study, that despite our demographic differences, everyone surveyed essentially had the same basic set of desires.
By Jasmine Islas. As a Spring 2022 MPA Watch Intern, Jasmine supported Heal the Bay’s Science, Outreach, and Policy teams in the research and observation of marine protected areas (MPAs) through coastal conservation advocacy and fieldwork.
💥 Action Alert: We need your calls of support to pass these 5 bills before the end of the California Legislative Season.
UPDATE 09/06/2022: ALL 5 of these bills were passed! Thanks for your support in helping California protect communities and waterways. Now it’s up to Governor Newsom to sign them into law!
IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR:the end of the California Legislative season! Our state Senators and Assemblymembers have some important decisions to make over the next two weeks and we are just a few plays away from passing some innovative new laws that will help California communities battle climate change, pollution, and drought all while protecting our precious water and ocean resources. We have already had some major wins from the year, like Senate Bill 54 (Allen) passing back in June to fight plastic pollution, and losses, like Heal the Bay sponsored Assembly Bill 2758 (O’Donnell), which would have required public meetings on the DDT pollution off our coast but didn’t make it out of Senate Appropriations. However, there are still plenty of bills on the docket that need our urgent attention.
Heal the Bay has been supporting the following five bills over the past 2-year bill cycle and we have until August 31 to ensure that they are passed by the Senate & Assembly and, if they pass, until September 30 for the Governor to sign them into law. A key factor in their decision-making is the opinions of their constituents. That’s right, YOU! Let’s take a look at this year’s top contenders for environmental legislative wins and how you can help get them across the finish line:
1. AB 1832: Seabed Mining Ban (L. Rivas)
The ocean seafloor is a rich and thriving ecosystem, but around the world, that ecosystem is being threatened by seabed mining. A practice that resembles clearcutting a forest, mining the seafloor for minerals destroys habitat and wildlife leaving behind a barren seascape that grows so slowly, it may never recover. Mining also creates enormous toxic sediment plumes and noise, light, and thermal pollution that disrupt marine habitats. Following in Oregon and Washington’s footsteps, AB 1832 would ban seabed mining in California, effectively protecting the entire West Coast of the United States from this dangerous practice.
2. AB 2638: Water Bottle Refill Stations in Schools (Bloom)
Reusable water bottles are an excellent alternative to disposable plastic bottles, but they aren’t a viable solution if there is nowhere to refill them. AB 2638 would require any new construction or modernization project by a school district to include water bottle filling stations. By increasing access to safe drinking water at refill stations in schools, we can contribute to reuse and refill systems across the state, allowing our students to use reusable bottles instead of harmful disposable ones.
3. SB 1036: Ocean Conservation Corps (Newman)
For decades, the California Conservation Corps has served young adults across the state by hiring and training young adults for conservation-based service work on environmental projects. SB 1036 would expand this program and create an Ocean Conservation Corps. This bill would increase workforce development opportunities to thousands of young adults while contributing to ocean conservation projects like those currently happening at the Heal the Bay Aquarium.
4. SB 1157: Drought Resilience through Water Efficiency (Hertzberg)
California is experiencing long-term aridification, which means a hotter and drier climate, and is currently several years into the most severe drought in 1,200 years. We must ensure that California’s urban areas are not wasting water as we adapt to our changing climate. SB 1157 would update water use efficiency standards to reflect our growing need to conserve water based on best available indoor water use trends. Water efficiency is one of the cheapest, fastest, and most efficient ways we can meet long-term water needs and increase resilience in the face of the climate crisis. Saving water also saves energy, so it can help us meet our climate goals while also resulting in cheaper utility bills. That’s a win-win!
5. AB 1857: Anti-Incineration (C. Garcia)
Right now, Californians are sending their waste to incineration facilities to be burned instead of landfilled or recycled. These facilities are disproportionately located in frontline communities already overburdened by multiple pollution sources. Cities that send their waste to these toxic facilities are currently able to claim “diversion credits”, a tactic aimed at reducing waste sent to landfill and classifying incineration inappropriately in the same categories as recycling and source reduction. AB 1857 would redefine incineration as true disposal, and remove these diversion credits while also funding investments in zero-waste communities most impacted by incineration. This is a critical bill for achieving environmental justice in California and moving us away from toxic false solutions to our waste crisis.
Your representative wants to hear from you to help them vote on these bills, and your voice makes a huge difference. So, we need your help.
Hello, my name is [insert your name here] and I am a constituent of [insert the representative’s name here, e.g. Senator Stern]. I care deeply about the health and wellness of California’s natural ecosystems and am calling to ask the [Senator/Assemblymember] to vote yes on these five environmental bills: AB 1832, AB 1857, AB 2638, SB 1036, and SB 1157.
These bills will help California protect our environment and better prepare for climate change, while protecting our most vulnerable communities. As your constituent, this legislation is important to me and I urge [insert representative name] to vote yes on all of them.
Written by Emily Parker. As a Coastal and Marine Scientist for Heal the Bay, Emily works to keep our oceans and marine ecosystems healthy and clean by advocating for strong legislation and enforcement both locally and statewide. She focuses on plastic pollution, marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, and climate change related issues.
It’s been a year since the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant sewage spill. Where are we now?
ONE YEAR AGO TODAY, a catastrophic flood at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant (Hyperion) sent 13 million gallons of sewage into the Santa Monica Bay endangering the health and safety of Los Angeles County beachgoers and Hyperion workers. For several weeks after the spill, surrounding communities were blanketed in noxious fumes, and the Plant continued to discharge millions of gallons of undertreated wastewater into the ocean as repairs were made. Public notifications were alarmingly slow and reckless with L.A. County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) taking nearly 24 hours to close beaches and issue sewage spill advisories. This major breakdown in infrastructure and public notification is something we cannot afford to have happen again.
Here, we provide a short recap of the response to the spill as well as the most recent updates. For more information about the spill, check our original blog post.
The Response to the Spill
In the weeks after the spill, Heal the Bay supported motions put forth by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and the L.A. City Council to investigate the cause of the spill as well as the public notification protocols used by government agencies. These motions resulted in the creation of two reports – one created by L.A. Sanitation (hereafter 30-day Report), and one created by an ad hoc committee (hereafter Ad Hoc Report) of experts that included Heal the Bay’s CEO at the time, Shelley Luce, as well as Heal the Bay’s current CEO, Tracy Quinn, who was with the Natural Resource Defense Council. Around this time, L.A. Sanitation launched a website providing information and data about the recovery status of Hyperion in a bid for transparency.
The 30-day Report was released several weeks after the spill, and offered much needed clarity on the events leading up to the spill and an assessment of the damage to Hyperion. This report also provided a minute-by-minute account of the day of the spill. While this report was valuable, it did not identify the cause of the spill as there was not enough time for a thorough investigation.
Ad Hoc Report
The Ad Hoc Report was released on February 11, 2022 and was more comprehensive than the 30-day Report. The Ad Hoc Report found that a series of missteps led to the sewage spill rather than a single sudden influx of debris that inundated Hyperion’s machinery, which was the original theory. The report recommended improvements and next steps for improving Hyperion’s operations including upgrades to the trash removal equipment; improved alarm functionality; and more staffing and training.
This event caused Hyperion to violate both water and air pollution regulations, which means they could be penalized by two government agencies: L.A. Regional Water Quality Control Board (LARWQCB) and the South Coast Air Quality Management (SCAQMD) district. Both agencies state that investigations are ongoing, but we do have some information:
The SCAQMD has identified 39 separate air quality violations, but since their investigation is still in progress, there is no information about penalties at this point. The SCAQMD states that air pollutant levels no longer exceed state thresholds.
The LARWQCB has not released information about violations publicly, but we do know that there were sewage discharge and water quality monitoring violations. According to the LARWQCB, Hyperion may be fined between up to a maximum of $10 per gallon of sewage spilled depending on how severe the LARWQCB deems the spill. Given that 13 million gallons were discharged into the ocean, potential penalties could be $130 million dollars – with additional monetary penalties for each day they were in violation (up to $10k per day). Unfortunately, the LARWQCB has a poor track record when it comes to enforcement. In 2015, when Hyperion discharged 30 million gallons of sewage into the Santa Monica Bay, they were fined a little over $2 million or 7 cents a gallon. That penalty is well below the $10 per gallon maximum the LARWQCB could enact.
On June 29, 2022, L.A. Sanitation (LASAN) provided the public with updates on the status of the Plant’s operations:
LASAN worked with LACDPH and other agencies to improve public notification protocols.
Additional staff have been hired at Hyperion.
Alarms are audible and more visible in the Headworks facility; emergency protocols have been updated; and staff have received additional training.
Certain buildings were upgraded to make them less vulnerable to flooding.
More effective air filters were installed to address fumes.
Pipes carrying wastewater to the Plant will be inspected and cleared of debris.
The flood control mitigation feature in the Headworks facility will be automatic and will not rely on an employee to activate the feature in case of an emergency.
All equipment in the Headworks facility will have the ability to be operated remotely in case conditions in the Headworks facility are too dangerous for workers.
Electrical equipment will be updated and protected so it can withstand a flood.
New covers will be installed on effluent storage tanks, which will help prevent noxious fumes from seeping into the surrounding neighborhoods. Sensors will also be installed around the facility’s perimeter to measure fume concentrations.
What Comes Next
We are glad to see that Hyperion has made so many upgrades to its infrastructure within one year of sustaining catastrophic damage. At face value, the updates to Hyperion’s operations, both completed and in progress, will prevent a similar disaster from happening in the future at the Plant. However, this will not be the end of major sewage spills in Los Angeles County. Until major infrastructure updates are implemented across the County, we can expect to see failures in our sewage system like the December 2021 spill in Carson. We urge decision makers to fund infrastructure updates to keep pollution out of our communities and ecosystems.
LASAN will also need to work on rebuilding public trust as Hyperion transitions to full wastewater recycling by 2035. This transition means that Hyperion will no longer discharge treated water to the ocean, but will instead recycle 100% of its water to provide for a reliable and local source of water in the face of ongoing drought and climate change impacts. Heal the Bay is a strong supporter of this effort to reduce our reliance on imported water as well as reduce impacts to the ocean – we will be tracking the issue closely to ensure that public health is prioritized along with sustainability.
L.A. Sanitation and LACDPH have stated that they are working together on updated protocols for public notifications in case of a sewage spill, but we have seen little documentation or evidence of this. We urge both agencies to provide us with more information on how they will communicate with each other and the public in case of a sewage spill.
Once LARWQCB and SCAQMD complete their investigations, they will levy a monetary penalty on Hyperion/L.A. Sanitation. Some of these funds could go towards Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) – which are projects aimed at improving the environment. For example, approximately $1 million of the penalties resulting from the 2015 Hyperion spill went to environmental education programs including Heal the Bay’s and LASAN’s Don’t Flush That campaign. Another $1 million went towards cleanup and abatement costs of the spill. We urge LARWQCB and SCAQMD to enact fines that will adequately remediate the damage caused by this spill and also act as a deterrent for future environmental violations. Check out L.A. Waterkeeper’s blog for more information.
Heal the Bay will continue to monitor this issue and provide updates. We’d like to thank our local communities for diligently staying informed on this issue. Right after the spill happened, we received countless inquiries from members of the public, and in response we hosted a Live discussion on Instagram to answer your important questions. If you continue to have questions about the spill, please contact us.
Written by Luke Ginger. As a Heal the Bay Water Quality Scientist, Luke fights for the environment’s rights by advocating for water quality regulation and enforcement. He’s also looking out for the humans who go to the beaches, rivers, and streams by managing the Beach Report Card, River Report Card, and NowCast programs.
(From left) Jeff Williams, Andrea Kabwasa, and Rick Blocker attend Nick Gabaldón Day at Bay Street Beach — June 18, 2022.
CELEBRATING OUR 10TH YEARin partnership with Black Surfers Collective (BSC) and The Surf Bus Foundation, we only have to thank Rick Blocker. For over 50 years Rick has been a powerful advocate for diversity and inclusion in surfing. Rick is an original member of the Black Surfing Association.
Fifteen years ago Heal the Bay had a table next to BSC at community resource fair at the Crenshaw Mall. I had the privilege of meeting him then. We got to talking about beach access and how to diversify the beach. He told me about what the Collective had started with Nick Gabaldón Day. I told him, Heal the Bay has an Aquarium, bus money, and a lot to learn. He said, “your hired”.
He arranged a meeting with African American historian Alison Rose Jefferson as well as Jeff Williams and Greg Rachal from the Black Surfers Collective, and the rest is a joyous history. I am eternally grateful and humbled to stand with this group.
Check out more photos and stories from Nick Gabaldón Day 2022.
Nick Gabaldón Day celebrates the incredible life and legacy of the first documented surfer of color in the Santa Monica Bay. Gabaldón (1927-1951) was a pioneering surfer of African American and Mexican American descent whose passion, athleticism, discipline, love, and respect for the ocean live on as the quintessential qualities of the California surfer. This year, Black Surfers Collective, Heal the Bay, Surf Bus Foundation, Santa Monica Conservancy, Color the Water, and devoted community members gathered at the Historic Bay Street Beach to honor these tenets followed by a screening of Wade in the Water and story time at Heal the Bay Aquarium.
Join us in sending a big wave of thanks to our 2022 sponsors:
Thanks to the Tuesday Night Ultimate Frisbee Group affiliated with LA Throwback Foundation, folks that are interested promoting civic engagement and history through sports, for funding support of Nick Gabaldón Day.
Written ByMeredith McCarthy.Heal the Bay’s long time Programs Director has recently shifted to the Director of Operations. Meredith now oversees the organizational health and wellbeing of all programs and staff. As an avid scuba diver she has seen firsthand what putting too much in, taking too much out and ignoring the edge of the ocean has done to our coastal systems.
HEAL THE BAY IS ENCOURAGED to share that California has taken a major step forward in addressing the plastic pollution and waste crisis with the passage of Senate Bill 54 (SB 54) in the California State Legislature, followed by Governor Newsom signing it into law on June 30, 2022.
Reducing single-use plastics through comprehensive statewide policy is a priority for Heal the Bay. During Heal the Bay beach cleanups, 80% of the more than 4 million pieces of trash that our volunteers pick up is made from single-use plastics. In our ocean and rivers, plastic waste poses a significant threat to animals, leaching harmful chemicals into their bodies or even blocking their digestive tract, leading to starvation and malnourishment. The plastic pollution can even transfer up the food chain ultimately passing the toxins on to us.
SB 54, authored by Senator Ben Allen, establishes a producer responsibility scheme to hold plastic industries accountable for the waste they produce. We look forward to working with Senator Allen on the implementation of SB 54, and with our environmental justice partners to ensure low-income communities and communities of color don’t bear additional burdens. Pollution from the full lifecycle of plastics, which are derived from fossil fuels, already harms communities of color disproportionately. This pollution can lead to health impacts such as asthma, respiratory illness, headaches, fatigue, nosebleeds, and even cancer.
“Heal the Bay envisions a solution that moves us entirely away from single-use materials, especially plastics, and focuses on reuse and refill instead. Even though recycling is an important part of this process, we cannot recycle our way out — nor can we use dangerous chemical recycling methods that dispose of plastics in our air. We will continue to push hard, alongside other environmental and community-based organizations and advocates, to ensure the producer responsibility program established by SB 54 prioritizes reuse and refill,” said Tracy Quinn, Heal the Bay CEO and President.
The passing of this legislation ultimately means the California Recycling and Plastics Pollution Reduction Act Initiative, which was supposed to be on the November 2022 ballot, will be pulled. While we were thrilled to give California voters the opportunity to make this decision, our California legislature has incorporated many of the requirements and solutions laid out in the plastic ballot measure. The momentum of the plastic ballot measure brought industry to the table to make real commitments, and we are going to hold them to it.
What’s included in SB 54:
Sets a 25% source reduction goal for single-use packaging production by 2032. And by then, 65% of single-use packaging still being produced will need to be truly recyclable or compostable
Establishes a producer responsibility scheme through the formation of a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) to help California reduce plastic pollution, and creates strong state government enforcement and oversight that will remove power from the PRO should they fall out of compliance
Requires $5 billion of environmental mitigation funding from plastic producers to go toward environmental restoration and cleanup over 10-years
What needs to be improved upon in the legislation:
Does not outright ban polystyrene, rather it sets recycling rates of 25% by 2025 with the material being banned if this rate cannot be met
Allows for post-consumer recycled content (recycled plastic that is used in a new product) to count toward source reduction goal
Heal the Bay thanks Senator Allen and the bill’s co-authors Senators Becker, Gonzalez, Hertzberg, Kamlager, Skinner, Stern, and Wiener for championing SB 54. A huge thank you to Assemblymember Luz Rivas who advocated for important amendments. With the passage of SB 54, we look forward to experiencing less plastic pollution in our communities and environments and seeing a decrease in public health risks in the years to come.
Heal the Bay’s Beach and River Report Cards have you covered for selecting the perfect swimming spot this summer 2022.
THE WARM SUMMER WEATHER in our region is inspiring many Angelenos to cool off at local beaches and swimming holes. Heal the Bay is here with the latest water quality grades AND a list of best and worst places to go in Los Angeles for swimming to keep you safe from harmful bacterial-pollution that can be lurking beneath the surface.
Summer is officially here – the peak season for swimming outdoors. Heal the Bay releases its annual scientific reports on bacterial-pollution rankings for hundreds of beaches in California and dozens of freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County.
California beaches had excellent water quality in summer 2021, according to the thirty-second annual Beach Report Card that environmental nonprofit Heal the Bay released today. Heal the Bay assigned “A-to-F” letter grades for 500 California beaches in the 2021-2022 report, based on levels of fecal-indicator bacterial pollution in the ocean measured by County health agencies. In addition, the group ranked water quality at 35 freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County for summer 2021 and shared findings from the third annual River Report Card.
BEACH REPORT CARD HIGHLIGHTS
The good news is 94% of the California beaches assessed by Heal the Bay received an A or B grade during summer 2021, which is on par with the five-year average.
Even so, Heal the Bay scientists remain deeply concerned about ocean water quality. Polluted waters pose a significant health risk to millions of people in California. People who come in contact with water with a C grade or lower are at a greater risk of contracting illnesses such as stomach flu, ear infections, upper respiratory infections, and rashes. Beaches and rivers usually have high-risk water quality following a rain event. Less rain typically means that reduced amounts of pollutants, including bacteria, are flushed through storm drains and rivers into the ocean. Last year, rainfall across coastal counties in California was 24 percent lower than the historical average. Only 66% of California beaches had good or excellent grades during wet weather, which was a little above average, but still very concerning.
“A day at the beach and the river shouldn’t make anyone sick,” said Tracy Quinn, President and CEO of Heal the Bay. “It is wonderful news that most beaches in California have good water quality for swimming. But there are areas with poor water quality that need improvement and infrastructure upgrades. We can’t forget that our marine ecosystems are still threatened by the climate crisis and other pollution sources, and we need solutions to address these pressing issues as well. We expect people to increasingly seek out ocean shorelines and freshwater swimming holes to cool off as temperatures rise, so safe, clean, and healthy water is needed now more than ever.”
Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card and River Report Card provide access to the latest water quality information and are a critical part of our science-based advocacy work in support of strong environmental policies that protect public health.
Heal the Bay’s Beach Bummer List ranks the most polluted beaches in California based on levels of harmful bacteria in the ocean. The 2021-2022 Beach Bummer List includes beaches in San Diego, San Mateo, Los Angeles, and Humboldt Counties, and for the first-time ever a beach in Baja California, Mexico makes the list (this beach is monitored by San Diego County).*
Playa Blanca (Baja California, Mexico)
Erckenbrack Park (San Mateo County)
Marlin Park (San Mateo County)
Santa Monica Pier (Los Angeles County)
Marina del Rey Mother’s Beach, at lifeguard tower (Los Angeles County)
Moonstone County Park (Humboldt County)
Newport Bay, Vaughn’s Launch (Orange County)
Lakeshore Park (San Mateo County)
Marina del Rey Mother’s Beach, between lifeguard tower and boat dock (Los Angeles County)
Tijuana Slough, North of Tijuana River Mouth (San Diego County)
BEACH HONOR ROLL LIST
Heal the Bay’s Honor Roll List includes 51 California beaches that scored perfect water quality grades year-round (compared to 35 beaches in the prior year). Most beaches on the Honor Roll are in Southern California because many counties in Central California and Northern California do not sample frequently enough during the winter months. Orange County had the most beaches on the Honor Roll. Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, San Diego, and Santa Barbara Counties also had beaches with perfect water quality grades. San Francisco, Ventura, and Alameda Counties had no beaches on the Honor Roll.
Venice City Beach, at Brooks Ave. drain (Los Angeles County)
Rancho Palos Verdes, Long Point (Los Angeles County)
Royal Palms State Beach (Los Angeles County)
Palos Verdes Estates, at Malaga Cove trail outlet (Los Angeles County)
Las Tunas County Beach, at Pena Creek (Los Angeles County)
Nicholas Beach, at San Nicholas Canyon Creek (Los Angeles County)
Dana Point Harbor Youth Dock (Orange County)
Dana Point Harbor Guest Dock (Orange County)
Poche Beach (Orange County)
Doheny Beach (Orange County)
Doheny State Beach, end of the park (Orange County)
Doheny State Beach, at last campground (Orange County)
Corona Del Mar (Orange County)
Crystal Cove (Orange County)
Marine Science Institute Beach (Orange County)
Dana Point, Capistrano County Beach (Orange County)
Doheny State Beach, Pedestrian Bridge (Orange County)
Dana Strands Beach (Orange County)
Huntington City Beach, at 17th Street (Orange County)
Bolsa Chica Reserve, at Flood Gates (Orange County)
Surfside Beach, at Sea Way (Orange County)
San Clemente, at Avenida Calafia (Orange County)
Salt Creek Beach (Orange County)
Laguna Lido (Orange County)
Treasure Island Beach (Orange County)
Del Mar, at 15th Street (San Diego County)
Carlsbad, at Tamarack Ave. (San Diego County)
Carlsbad, at Poinsettia Lane (San Diego County)
Carlsbad, at Encina Creek (San Diego County)
Carlsbad, at Palomar Airport Rd. (San Diego County)
Carlsbad, at Cerezo Drive (San Diego County)
Oceanside, at Forster Street (San Diego County)
Oceanside, Harbor Beach at Harbor Drive (San Diego County)
Point Loma, Lighthouse (San Diego County)
Point Loma, Point Loma Treatment Plant (San Diego County)
Sunset Cliffs, at Ladera Street (San Diego County)
Mission Beach, Belmont Park (San Diego County)
La Jolla Shores Beach, 1000 ft south of Scripps Pier (San Diego County)
La Jolla Shores Beach, 250 feet south of Scripps Pier (San Diego County)
La Jolla Shores Beach, 500 feet north of Scripps Pier (San Diego County)
Guadalupe Dunes (Santa Barbara County)
East Beach, at Sycamore Creek (Santa Barbara County)
El Capitan State Beach (Santa Barbara County)
Sands, at Coal Oil Point (Santa Barbara County)
Cayucos State Beach, downcoast of the pier (San Luis Obispo County)
Pismo Beach, at Ocean View (San Luis Obispo County)
Pismo Beach, at Wadsworth Street (San Luis Obispo County)
San Simeon State Beach, at Pico Ave. (San Luis Obispo County)
Morro Strand State Beach, at Beachcomber Drive (San Luis Obispo County)
Pismo State Beach, 571 yards south of Pier Ave. (San Luis Obispo County)
Pismo State Beach, 330 yards north of Pier Ave. (San Luis Obispo County)
“The World Surf League is incredibly proud to partner with Heal the Bay to upgrade the Beach Report Card for all ocean lovers to be informed about water quality prior to heading to their favorite beach. Through the partnership we are investing in improvements to the user experience of the Beach Report Card website and app, and we will be activating local surfers to protect the health of 150 million beachgoers in California,” said Emily Hofer, Chief People Officer and Executive Director WSL PURE at World Surf League (WSL).
RIVER REPORT CARD HIGHLIGHTS
Heal the Bay graded 35 freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County within the L.A. River, San Gabriel River, and Malibu Creek Watersheds during summer 2021. 59% of the grades across all LA freshwater sites and all dates indicated a low risk of illness, 17% indicated a moderate risk of illness, and 24% indicated a high risk of illness.
“Our River Report Card identifies a disturbing trend between development and water quality. The natural areas in our watersheds, rivers and streams with muddy bottoms and ample flora, have the best water quality and are the safest for the public. While heavily developed areas, waterways encased with concrete (including within the L.A. River channel), tend to have lower water quality. We recommend checking out the River Report Card before heading out to the L.A. River because bacteria levels are often at unsafe levels and you can find a safer spot for cooling off,” said Luke Ginger, Water Quality Scientist and author of the River Report Card and Beach Report Card.
Avoid shallow, enclosed beaches with poor water circulation.
Swim at least 100 yards away from flowing storm drains, creeks, and piers.
Stay out of the water for at least 72-hours after a rain event.
Follow all local health and safety regulations, including all local pandemic-related regulations.
Check in with the lifeguard or ranger on duty for more information about the best places to swim.
ACCESS TO WATER RECREATION
The COVID-19 pandemic, record-setting wildfire seasons, and extreme heat have compounded the already dire need for equity in our recreational waters, and exposed major systemic failures; open spaces, including beaches and rivers, are not equally accessible to all people. Low-income communities of color tend to be the most burdened communities, bearing the brunt of environmental pollution, socioeconomic disparities, and limited access to safe, healthy, and clean water recreation. Heal the Bay is committed to expanding the user base of our Beach Report Card and River Report Card. We have started by working with local community-based organizations that are taking down barriers to water recreation for communities of color. Through this work, we will amplify what “safe, healthy, and clean access to water recreation” means in the communities where it is needed the most.
About Heal the Bay: Heal the Bay is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1985. They use science, education, community action, and advocacy to fulfill their mission to protect coastal waters and watersheds in Southern California. Heal the Bay Aquarium, located at the Santa Monica Pier, welcomes 100,000 guests annually and hosts a variety of public programs and events that highlight local environmental issues and solutions. Learn more at healthebay.org and follow @healthebay on social media.
About Beach Report Card: Beach Report Card with NowCast, in partnership with World Surf League, is Heal the Bay’s flagship scientific water quality monitoring program that started in the 1990s. For thirty years, the Beach Report Card has influenced the improvement of water quality by increasing monitoring efforts and helping to enact strong environmental and public health policies. Learn more at beachreportcard.org and download the free app on Apple and Android devices. The Beach Report Card is made possible through generous support from SIMA Environmental Fund, SONY Pictures Entertainment, and World Surf League.
About River Report Card: Currently, there is no statewide water quality monitoring mandate for rivers and streams in California, like we have for the ocean as a result of the Beach Report Card. Heal the Bay started the River Report Card in 2017 to push for new public health protections for freshwater areas in addition to serving the immediate need for increased public awareness about the risks at popular freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County. Learn more at healthebay.org/riverreportcard. The River Report Card is brought to you by Garfield Foundation, Watershed Conservation Authority, Environment Now, and Rivers and Mountains Conservancy.
View the Beach Report Card and River Report Card from last year.
*EDITOR NOTE: An earlier version of this blog post included Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara Counties within this paragraph description of the Beach Bummers, which was in error. Neither of these Counties have beaches on Heal the Bay’s Beach Bummers list this year.
Resumen ejecutivo Las calificaciones durante la temporada seca de verano fueron excelentes en todo el estado, 94 % de las playas de California recibiendo calificaciones A y B, lo cual está a la par con el promedio de cinco años. Las calificaciones durante la Temporada Seca de Invierno estuvieron ligeramente por debajo del promedio con 88% de las playas que recibieron calificaciones A y B. Las calificaciones de la Temporada Lluviosa del año pasado estuvieron un poco por encima del promedio con 66% de las playas que recibieron calificaciones A y B.
Los condados costeros están experimentando sequías moderadas o extremas y han recibido un 24 % menos de precipitaciones que el promedio histórico. Las precipitaciones por debajo del promedio pueden haber resultado en ligeras mejoras para las calificaciones durante la Temporada Lluviosa porque se redujeron las cantidades de contaminantes, incluidas las bacterias. Sin embargo, la reducción de las precipitaciones no siempre da como resultado mejores calificaciones, en nuestro último informe encontramos que la precipitación de California es un 41 % más baja que el promedio histórico y que los calificaiones de la Temporada Lluviosa son más bajas que el promedio. La investigación ha encontrado que la duración y frecuencia de las tormentas pueden tener un gran impacto en las concentraciones de bacterias en el océano, lo que puede explicar las diferencias entre las calificaciones de la Temporada Lluviosa de este informe y del anterior.
Playa Blanca cerca de Tijuana es la numero en la lista de las Peores Playas de este año. Esta playa y otras en el área se ven afectadas por el escurrimiento urbano contaminado con aguas residuales del área metropolitana de Tijuana, que tiene una infraestructura de alcantarillado insuficiente y en algunos lugares, inexistente. Esta playa también puede recibir flujos de contaminación de aguas residuales provenientes de la planta de tratamiento Punta Bandera al norte de esta playa.
El condado de San Mateo ha producido el mayor numero de Peores Playas que cualquier otro condado en los últimos años. Por tercer año consecutivo, Erckenbrack Park esta en la lista de las Peores Playas; Marlin Park está haciendo su segunda aparición consecutiva; y Lakeshore Park ha estado en la lista por cinco ocaciones en los últimos 10 años. Estas playas están encerradas en un mosaico de canales de poca circulación de agua, en donde la contaminación no se elimina fácilmente de las playas.
El muelle de Santa Mónica, que alguna vez fue una de las principals playas en la lista de las Peores Playas, vuelve a aparacer nuevamente ocupando la posicion número cuatro de esta lista. La última vez que el muelle de Santa Mónica apareció en la lista de las peores playas fue en 2018. Los funcionarios de la ciudad de Santa Mónica han declarado que planean reemplazar la malla deteriorada que excluye a las aves debajo del muelle. Las aves atraídas por el muelle son una fuente potencial de contaminación fecal.
Marina Del Rey Mother’s Beach es el hogar de dos ubicaciones en la Lista de las Peores Playas de este año, lo cual no es una sorpresa dada la historia de esta playa. La mala calidad del agua ha persistido desde el inicio del Boletín de Calificaciones de Playas hace más de 30 años. Las características que hacen de esta playa un gran destino para familias, la hacen también para la contaminación bacteriana. Esta playa está encerrada dentro de Marina Del Rey, por lo tanto, tiene poca acción de olas o de circulación de agua. Eso significa que la contaminación bacteriana no se elimina de la costa como lo hacen en playas de mar abierto. El condado de Los Ángeles ha implementado muchos proyectos de mejora de calidad del agua en el área, pero las características físicas aquí dificultan la eliminación de los altos niveles de contaminación.
Moonstone Beach County Park en el condado de Humboldt está haciendo su primera aparición en esta lista. playa recibe aportes de contaminación del Little River que desemboca en el océano en este lugar. Un estudio realizado en la cercana playa Clam Beach encontró que las aves, vacas y perros fueron fuentes de contaminación fecal, aunque se necesita más investigación para evaluar los riesgos para la salud en el Parque del condado de Moonstone.
Vaughn’s Launch en el condado de Orange es un lugar de muestreo dentro del área de Newport Bay State Marine Conservation. La natación y la pesca no están permitidas aquí, pero sí el kayak y paddleboard; el lugar más cercano para botes es el Centro Acuático de Newport Bay. Vaughn’s Launch se ve afectado por un arroyo cercano que lleva escurrimientos urbanos de los vecindarios circundantes. Los funcionarios locales han trabajado para abordar ciertos contaminantes del área, canalizando el agua potencialmente contaminada a través de un estanque de retención con vegetación natural. Sin embargo, el depósito de retención no se construyó para filtrar bacterias indicadoras fecales, por lo que no sabe qué tan efectivo es contra la contaminación fecal. Se sospecha que las poblaciones naturales de aves son la razón de los altos recuentos de bacterias, pero se necesita más investigación para respaldar esa afirmación.
Tijuana Slough, aproximadamente a una milla al norte de la desembocadura del río Tijuana, estáen la posicián número 10 de este año. Esta ubicación se ve afectada por la contaminación de las aguas residuales que el río Tijuana lleva al océano. La infraestructura deteriorada e insuficiente de alcantarillado de la Ciudad de Tijuana envía cada año millones de galones de aguas residuales al Río Tijuana y al océano Pacífico. Las investigaciones recientes también han demostrado que las descargas de aguas residuales parcialmente tratadas de la planta de tratamiento Punta Bandera en Tijuana, fluyen hacia el norte e impactan las playas en la región fronteriza.
Las playas de Oregón no fueron monitoreada con la frecuencia suficiente para recibir una calificación durante la Temporada Seca de Verano, ni tampoco durante los meses de invierno. Solo seis condados recibieron calificaciones durante la Temporada Lluviosa y solo el 57 % de las playas recibieron calificaciones A y B, que fueron las más bajas (79 %) del promedio histórico del estado.
Las calificaciones del estado de Washington durante la Temporada Seca de Verano fueron del 79% de las playas que recibieron calificaciones A y B, y que está muy por debajo del promedio del 96%. Las calificaciones durante la Temporada Lluviosa de Verano fueron excepcionales e iguales al promedio histórico, con un 94% recibiendo calificaciones A y B. Desafortunadamente, no se monitorearon las playas de Washington durante los meses de invierno, por lo que no se pudo calcular las calificaciones la Temporada Seca de Invierno.
En el área de Tijuana, se encontraron niveles preocupantes de contaminación en tres playas de monitoreo. El Faro y El Vigia recibieron una D durante la Temporada Seca de Verano, mientras que Playa Blanca recibió una F y terminó en nuestra lista de las Peores Playas. Las tres playas recibieron calificaciones de F durante las temporada Secas y Lluviosas de Invierno.
Durante el último año, las aguas de la Costa Oeste sufrieron varias descargas contaminantes catastróficas que pusieron en peligro la salud pública y de nuestros ecosistemas costeros. Este “verano de derrames” fue el resultado de múltiples fallas de infraestructura, exacerbadas aún más por la falta de notificación pública de parte de las agencias públicas. Una red de alcantarillado rota envió siete millones de galones de aguas residuales al Canal Domínguez, un área que desemboca en el océano cerca de Long Beach, California. Desafortunadamente, ese incidente fue eclipsado por otra ruptura de tubería en la Planta Internacional de Tratamiento de Aguas Residuales al norte de Tijuana, en el lado estadounidense de la frontera. Esa rotura envió por varias semanas casi mil millones de galones de agua contaminada con aguas residuales al océano Pacífico. Un derrame de aguas residuales de 13 millones de galones de la planta de Tratamiento Hyperion de Los Ángeles fue el resultado de una falla en el sistema de eliminación de basura de la planta. Los residentes del condado de Los Ángeles no fueron notificados de los posibles riesgos para la salud hasta aproximadamente 20 horas después de que ocurriera el derrame. En el mes de octubre, se filtraron 25.000 galones de petróleo de un oleoducto frente a la costa de Huntington Beach, California. El derrame de petróleo cerró las playas debido a la naturaleza tóxica del crudo y sus vapores. En una narrativa muy común, los residentes y visitantes del Condado de Orange no fueron notificados sino hasta la mañana siguiente de lo ocurrido.
Resumen ejecutivo Heal the Bay se enorgullece en publicar el cuarto informe anual del boletín River Report Card. Este informe proporciona un resumen de las calificaciones de la calidad del agua en áreas recreacionales del condado de Los Ángeles (L.A.) durante el 2021. Los ríos, arroyos y lagos del condado de L.A. reciben multitudes de visitantes cada año y son vitales para satisfacer las necesidades recreacionales, áreas verdes y prácticas culturales de la comunidad. Desafortunadamente, muchos sitios de recreación en el condado de Los Angeles tienen problemas de contaminación por bacterias indicadoras fecales (FIB), lo que indica la presencia de patógenos que pueden causar infecciones, irritación de la piel, enfermedades respiratorias y gastrointestinales. Nuestro objetivo es resaltar las preocupaciones sobre la calidad del agua, abogar por mejorar este problema y brindar a los miembros de la comunidad información necesaria para mantenerse seguros y saludables cuando disfrutan de sus área recreacionales locales.
De los 35 sitios calificados durante el verano de 2021, el 59 % obtuvo luz Verde en su calificaión (lo que indica que no hay riesgos para la salud debido a la calidad del agua); El 17% obtuvo luz Amarilla (riesgo moderado para la salud) y el 24% luz Roja (alto riesgo para la salud).
Heal the Bay amplió el informe del boletín River Report Card para incluir seis nuevos sitios de monitoreo en la parte baja del río de L.A. desde Maywood hasta Long Beach. Si bien estos sitios no están oficialmente designados para la recreación, las personas acuden regularmente a esta parte del río. Los datos brindan información para los usuarios y nos dan una perspectiva para futuros esfuerzos de revitalización del río.
Siete sitios de monitoreo no excedieron los lilmites permitidos de bacterias patógenas, obteniendo así calificaciones ecológicas del 100 %. La mayoría de estos sitios están ubicados en el sector del Angeles National Forest.
Todos los seis sitios de monitoreo de la parte baja del río de L.A. experimentaron una muy baja calidad de agua, lo que los hace acreedores a los peores sitios de la lista. Las concentraciones de bacterias a menudo fueron diez veces mayores a los estándares de calidad de agua.
Después de los sitios de la parte baja del L.A. River, Tujunga Wash en Hansen Dam encabezó la lista de los peores sitios recreacionales con un 94 % de calificaciones que obtuvieron luz Roja, porcentaje más alto visto en este sitio desde que se inició el informe del River Report Card.
Por cuarto año consecutivo, a la altura de Rattlesnake Park en el río de L.A. esta otro sitio en lista de los peores sitios recreacionales. Este sitio popular recibe un flujo constante de contaminación bacteriana cerca del drenaje pluvial a la altura de la calle Fletcher Ave para quienes pescan, hacen kayak o caminan por sus aguas.
Las Virgenes Creek a la altura de la calle Crags Road experimentó un gran aumento en el porcentaje de calificaciones con luz Roja con respecto al año anterior. Este sitio en el Parque Estatal Malibu Creek ocupa la posición nueve en la lista de los peores sitios recreacionales.
Las áreas con desarrollo urbano tienden a recibir las peores calificaciones que las áreas naturales, y la mayoría de los peores sitios en la lista se cuentran en los paisajes urbanos. Los sitios en la cuenca del río San Gabriel y la cuenca superior del río de L.A. se encuentran en áreas menos desarrolladas y se ven menos afectados por la escorrentía urbana.
Heal the Bay estuvo conmovido por el gobernador Gavin Newsom quien firmó el Proyecto de Ley de la Asamblea (AB) 1066 en 2021. Este proyecto iniciará un proceso para proteger la salud pública y la calidad del agua en sitios recreacionales como ríos, lagos y arroyos de California. El proyecto de ley, escrito por el asambleísta Bloom y patrocinado por Heal the Bay, asignará al Consejo de Monitoreo de Calidad del Agua de California (California Water Quality Monitoring Council) para hacer recomendaciones a la Junta Estatal de Agua (State Water Board) de un programa uniforme de monitoreo de sitios recreacionales de agua dulce en todo el estado para diciembre de 2023. El programa del Consejo incluirá definiciones propuestas para sitios recreacionales y “sitios prioritarios recreacionales de contacto con el agua” en California. El Proyecto de Ley AB 1066 abordará las disparidades en el monitoreo de la calidad del agua entre sitios recreacionales de agua dulce y playas costeras.
Heal the Bay se compromete a mejorar la calidad del agua en las cuencas hidrográficas del condado de Los Ángeles mediante la creación de áreas verdes. Las áreas verdes, mejoran la calidad del agua local, aumentan la reutilización y el suministro de agua, reducen el carbono y mitigan el efecto aislado de calor urbano. Además de proporcionar áreas de recreación y hábitat para los animales vida Silvestre, pueden también funcionar como soluciones esenciales de múltiples beneficios para las aguas pluviales. Como ejemplo podemos mencionar la creación de Inell Woods Park: un nuevo espacio verde de múltiples beneficios y diseñado por la comunidad que se construirá este año en el sur de Los Ángeles. Heal the Bay construirá el parque de aguas pluviales en colaboración con el concejal de la ciudad de Los Angeles Curren Price Jr. y miembros de la comunidad para capturar, tratar y reutilizar la escorrentía urbana y proporcionar espacios verdes y recreativos a la comunidad. Los proyectos de beneficios múltiples como este son de uso eficiente y efectivo de nuestros contribuyentes que sirven tanto a las necesidades comunitarias como ambientales.