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Heal The Ocean
updated: Jun 07, 2014, 10:00 AM

Our Mission:

Heal the Ocean focuses on wastewater infrastructure - sewers and septic systems - as well as ocean dumping practices that have contributed to ocean pollution. We are focused on Santa Barbara County, but our methods are now serving as a model for other coastal communities across the country.

2014 Newsletter cover by Marie Morrisroe

Our mission maintains five definite goals:

1. WASTEWATER UPGRADE & RECYCLING. Wastewater is waste(d)water. HTO actively works to secure grant funding for wastewater treatment plant upgrade and recycling projects that turn the water around for reuse rather than ocean disposal.
2. SEPTIC SYSTEMS. Septic systems operate on the principle of leaching, and must be removed from inappropriate beach and creek areas. "Cluster overuse" must be dealt with by sewer hookup, which we facilitate by working with homeowner associations.
3. NON-POINT SOURCE POLLUTION. Heal the Ocean plays an active role in the development of storm water permits, and has initiated a study of groundwater ocean interaction; we lobby for increased street sweeping and enforcement to prevent illegal dumping into creeks and storm drains.
4. OCEAN DUMPING. Dredge and fill operations in the name of "restoring beaches" will not be performed unless materials are suitable and clean for beaches, and do not cause smothering of near-shore sea life.
5. LANDFILLS. We take an active role in the prevention of toxic pollutants leaching into the sea from landfills.

Isla Vista during the King Tide of February 9, 2014 (Photo by Bill Dewey)

What We Do:

Our Philosophy: It's simple: The ocean can no longer be used as a dump. Heal the Ocean is committed to ending ocean pollution.

Our Course of Action: We follow a basic premise: instead of lobbying the government for action on ocean-pollution issues, we study the problem ourselves and recommend practical solutions.

We undertake scientific studies to identify sources of pollution - from leaking sewer pipes, offshore sewage discharge, leaking coastal landfills or septic systems.

We test for pollutants in the ocean, creeks and groundwater to determine if human sources of bacteria are present, and what are the likely sources. In cooperation with Santa Barbara County, Heal the Ocean pioneered both the use of environmental DNA testing and virus testing in the creeks, rivers, and ocean.

We have commissioned numerous engineering studies and environmental assessments to determine the cost and feasibility of replacing septic systems, upgrading sewage treatment plants and installing stormwater treatment technology.

We have found that once the problem is known and cleanup costs are understood, the public is eager to move forward with cleanup and more willing to pay the price.

To learn more or read their annual newsletter, go to healtheocean.org

To make a donation, visit this page.


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