On Saturday, November 19th, the students of the Heal the Bay Surfrider Club organized a “Paddle Out for a Bag Free LA” to draw attention to the current state of our beaches and the poor results of recent water quality testing by the club. This Paddle Out was modeled on the annual paddles the Surfrider Foundation has held in support of cleaner water. The students received support from their adviser Benjamin Kay, Heal the Bay volunteers, the LA County Lifeguards, and the Aqua Surf school which donated boards and wetsuits for the students to use in the paddle. Team Marine , the Surf Team, and two other Samohi clubs also participated. The students congregated in the water to show their support for the Plastic Bag Ban for the greater Los Angeles area and cleaner ocean water in general.
On October 5th, the first heavy rains of winter broke through the sandbar that formed as a barrier between the polluted Pico-Kenter storm drain and the ocean. This led to many tons of water from our storm drains pouring onto the beach and into the ocean. The Heal the Bay Surfrider Club runs the “Teach and Test” water testing program which provides water quality results used by various businesses in Santa Monica, to show the levels of Enterococcus bacteria in the ocean water and indicate the risk of disease after exposure to it. The results that day showed that there were over ten thousand bacterial colonies in every one hundred milliliters of ocean water. This outcome shows the direct impact of LA’s runoff can have on the ocean and human life.
For several years, Santa Monica High School’s environmental clubs have worked tirelessly with non-profits to establish the plastic bag ban in Santa Monica. Through this event, the Heal the Bay Surfrider Club hopes to push Los Angeles City toward following in Santa Monica’s footsteps and ban plastic bags.
by Jessica Kendall-Bar (Senior at Santa Monica High School, Co-President of the Heal the Bay Surfrider Club)