Written by Lauren Taniyama
One of LA County’s most beloved environmental agencies has made a change. A change that only broadens their scope as a leader in the quest to improve the health of Santa Monica Bay and San Pedro Bay. These two bays make up the entire LA County coastline. Santa Monica Bay spans from Point Dume all the way down to Palos Verdes Peninsula, encompassing the entire border of the infamously named Los Angeles Westside and the South Bay. San Pedro bay is the entire port area and Long Beach. There are numerous organizations that spend tireless hours trying to keep the waterways and oceans in the greater Los Angeles area clean, safe and thriving for the next generations to enjoy.
Los Angeles Waterkeeper, formerly known as Santa Monica Baykeeper is part of a powerful alliance of waterkeepers all around the globe. The United States currently has five regions, one of which is the Pacific region, a space made up of over 25 individual areas from Alaska to the Mexican border. Founded in 1993, LA Waterkeeper is dedicated to many different aspects of the LA region’s water quality. They not only focus on the ocean and the bays, but the rivers and creeks that feed into the bays such as Malibu Creek, Topanga Creek and Ballona Creek, Los Angeles River and the San Gabriel River as well.
There are numerous different projects that LA Waterkeeper focuses on. The most recent–and probably most notable–being their support of the Malibu Lagoon restoration project that is ongoing this summer. In 2010 they were part of a lawsuit against the city of Mailbu to hold them accountable for their suspect water quality and demanded action. They were successful in their efforts which added more backing to a restoration battle that had been ongoing since 2001.
Another very significant project is the fight to declare a network of coastal ecosystems in California as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). In order to allow our struggling ocean ecosystem to recover, areas of the ocean are protected, and restrictions are put in place that limit fishing and boating and other human activity, as well as commercial activity like mining and oil. There are thousands of MPAs around the world. California is host to hundreds of these areas and LA Waterkeeper has been a part of process for many of the local southern California MPAs. Some examples are Point Dume, Point Conception, Campus Point, South La Jolla, Cabrillo and all over Catalina.
A really special issue that LA Waterkeeper deals with is kelp forest restoration. California used to have amazing dense kelp forests off the coast. In the last century, there has been a severe decline in the population due to pollution, human development and an unstable ecosystem that has allowed for purple urchins to take over the rocky substrate that native kelp needs to anchor onto. This project is unique because LA Waterkeeper is requesting volunteer divers for help in this project. If you are a certified rescue diver or a scientific diver you can be a part of this incredible restoration project. This is important work that is integral to the survival of our ocean environment.
The water that is discharged into the ocean is what needs the most monitoring. That is where the LA Waterkeeper’s watershed program comes into play. The main goal of this program is to involve community members in a monitoring program. DrainWatch is a great program that anyone can get involved in.
LA Waterkeeper is an extremely successful organization that has a perfect blend of public outreach, scientific monitoring, advocacy and litigation efforts, and a community of aware and active people that care about their waterways and oceans. To donate to this cause or become a member visit http://www.smbaykeeper.org/membership.html. Check out their website for even more information on the projects described in this article.