On Monday, July 12, it was announced as much as 17 million gallons of sewage spilled into Santa Monica Bay via Los Angeles’ Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant. The spill made headlines as four miles of beach from El Segundo north to Dockweiler RV Park were closed (one of the busiest stretches of beach in Southern California) due to the largest discharge of untreated sewage since at least 2015.
By Wednesday the same stretch of coast reopened to the public as water samples met state standards for acceptable water quality, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
In response to the spill the WSL and Heal the Bay, both headquartered locally in Santa Monica, announced a new partnership Thursday. The plan should directly address one of the local concerns when news of the spill began to spread: how can the public be notified and informed as soon as possible?
“While the waves may look clear, many beachgoers have no idea they might be swimming in a bacteria-polluted area, especially near piers, storm drains, and enclosed harbors with poor water circulation,” Heal the Bay wrote in an announcement. “One in 25 beachgoers will get sick swimming or surfing in polluted water near a flowing storm drain. Youth and seniors are particularly vulnerable to illnesses related to bacterial pollution.”
As part of a three-year sponsorship, the WSL will support the expansion of Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card. The Beach Report Card was created by Heal the Bay as a way to keep surfers and swimmers updated on water quality conditions at various spots in the Santa Monica Bay. It provides a grading system and alerts for specific locations, and Heal the Bay announced they plan to expand their NowCast daily prediction program to include as many as 50 beaches throughout the three-year partnership.
“As a surfer, I have spent a ton of time in the water since I was a little kid,” Conner Coffin said. “The water quality at my local beaches is something I have always been observant of. Unfortunately, there have been many times where the water quality has seemed very low and I’ve gotten sick from surfing in dirty water. I’m thrilled the World Surf League is partnering with Heal the Bay on the Beach Report Card for California. Everyone deserves access to clean water to surf, swim, and enjoy this precious resource – our one ocean!”