Dorothy Green leading a rally during Heal the Bay's early days. Photo: Heal the Bay
Heal the Bay was founded in 1985 by Dorothy Green and a group of concerned Angelenos
A small group of dedicated people can change the world.
Offers to help are often more effective than threats.
A history of education, advocacy and community action
Effective and Reasonable Change
Heal the Bay was founded in 1985 by a group of Los Angeles residents who were tired of the pollution in Santa Monica Bay. They learned that fish in the bay had fin rot, dolphins had tumors, and there was a giant dead spot in the Bay where absolutely nothing could live. Swimmers and surfers were getting sick, and then Dorothy Green got angry.
Dorothy Green, the organization's founding president, passed away peacefully on October 13, 2008. Her legacy and influence on Heal the Bay and the environmental movement will never be forgotten. "Dorothy Green was simply the most influential water quality activist in California for the last 30 years," says Mark Gold, her protégé and former president of Heal the Bay.
Heal the Bay is a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to making Southern California coastal waters and watersheds, including Santa Monica Bay, safe, healthy and clean. We use research, education, community action and advocacy to pursue our mission.
Dorothy, an L.A. mother and budding environmental activist, found out that the city of Los Angeles' Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant was a disaster, dumping incompletely treated sewage into the bay and breaking the law in several different ways. Outraged, Dorothy gathered a group of like-minded citizens in her living room, in concert with local activist Howard Bennett, and Heal the Bay was born. Attorney Doug Spruance and Secretary Maxine Brickman would later facilitate the formal incorporation of the organization in 1987.
Heal the Bay sold T-shirts in Venice Beach, talked to the media, packed hearing rooms and held rallies, and ultimately Hyperion’s waiver was denied. Today, Hyperion is a world-class treatment facility, fish and dolphins no longer have fin rot and tumors, and plant and animal life has returned to the dead zones.
Our first big victory taught us a crucial thing: that a small group of people can change their world. We learned that most problems can be solved without bringing them into the courtroom, and that most agencies respond much better to offers of help than to threats of lawsuits.
Our all-volunteer organization has grown into one of the most effective environmental groups in California, with 50 staff people, more than 10,000 members, and a dedicated core of volunteers. Our unique combination of science and policy, education, community action, and advocacy has tackled issues from sewage treatment to land-use and education. Some of the wins we are most proud of include:
Hyperion wastewater treatment plant In 1986, in large part because of pressure from Heal the Bay, Hyperion was ordered to stop dumping incompletely treated sewage in the bay. Now, there is 90% less sewage entering our waters.
Ahmanson Ranch In 2003, Heal the Bay played a huge role in the fight to preserve Ahmanson Ranch, over 2,900 acres of parkland in the Santa Monica Mountains, and a key contiguous wildlife corridor from the mountains to the sea.
Pollution limits Heal the Bay fought to have pollution limits included in routine regulation. Over the years, these so-called TMDLs force dischargers to dramatically cut down on trash, bacteria, and other pollutants entering our rivers, creeks and ocean.
Beach Report Card In 1990, Heal the Bay published the first Beach Report Card, a local analysis of bacteria levels at L.A. area beaches as a guide to let swimmers know if it was OK to get in the water. Today we grade almost 500 beaches along the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington each week.
Santa Monica Pier Aquarium In 2003, Heal the Bay opened the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, bringing the Santa Monica Bay to life for more than 70,000 people each year.
Coastal Cleanup Day Heal the Bay first coordinated Coastal Cleanup Day in Los Angeles in 1990. Now, an average of 15,000 people clean more than 50 sites, both coastal and inland each year in L.A County alone.
Today, Heal the Bay continues to restore and protect California's threatened waterways and beaches. Not so long ago, the Bay was a different place. In a short time, Heal the Bay has helped make it better.