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Heal the ocean: giving back to the ocean

Heal the ocean: giving back to the ocean

Many news feeds, advertisements, campaigns and companies are trying to do something about contamination and pollution in the ocean. The list of names is endless and the efforts vary from one institution to another. Take for example Green Peace, they are protecting the oceans and the environment even against the worst and most dangerous enemy mother earth could have: human beings. It is a battle zone when it comes to protecting whales from hunters and parts of land from drug traffickers and mafias and everything goes with these types of confrontations. It’s a war zone out there when it comes to protecting the environment.

Kenny Slaught, whose aid to help anything related with Santa Barbara has been amazing, can directly relate to this issue. For example, there is a charity institution in Santa Barbara called Heal The Ocean that is totally committed to change the perspective that people have that everything that is not being used can end up in the ocean. Their philosophy is clear: The Ocean can no longer be used as a dump. So, with the help of people, donors and anybody that wants to help, Heal the Ocean is committed to ending ocean pollution for good. Let’s see what they are all about.

It all started back in August 1998 in Santa Barbara, California, when there was a massive closing of beaches due to bacteria. The founders and brains behind the idea are Hillary Hauser, a journalist who has covered marine topics – both internationally and in Santa Barbara – for over 40 years, and Jeff Young, a practicing attorney in Santa Barbara who was affected by pollution and bacteria back in the 1980s because he used to have an oyster farm that was polluted out of business.

They are considered as a citizens’ action group that began with the Hauser’s newspaper editorial, published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on August 9, 1998, called “Another Day at the Beach?”. This only article caused and amazing reaction in concerned citizens that started to show emotional support and that agreed with the idea and the article. This citizens became the reason why in august 27, 1998, and in response to the call for action by the community, a public demonstration took place at the Santa Barbara County administration building  in support of clean waters and clean beaches. It was here where the community spoke and gave birth to Heal the Ocean.

One of the first problems that HTO tackled was the septic systems at Rincon, a world class surfing area in Santa Barbara County. They were the first environmental organization in the county to do DNA testing in the environment in order to identify the origins of contamination. And reached a staggering conclusion:  pollution in the Rincon Lagoon was attributable to humans. They did this by raising $36,000 on their own. Their investment paid off and now after fifteen years, the South Coast Beaches Communities Septic to Sewer Project is complete, and has freed the coastline, seven miles of Santa Barbara coastline to be exact, from septic systems and their consequences.

Image courtesy of irmiller at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of irmiller at Flickr.com

So, how is it that they do it? Heal the Ocean does not only focus on wastewater and other sources of ocean pollution. They actually target infrastructure upgrades and government agencies that are implementing projects that will heal the ocean as their philosophy goes. They are also committed to raising funds for their cause and to also assist in project where it is needed.

In order to identify all the source of pollution such as leaking sewer pipes and offshore wastewater discharges to leaking coastal landfills and septic systems, they find consultancy and use the best scientists and scientific studies to reach all their conclusions to then take action towards healing the ocean.

Other of their efforts include the  Santa Barbara County Septic System Regulations where their help led to one of the first regulatory programs in the state specifically designed to protect groundwater resources from septic system pollution;  the Goleta Sanitary District Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade where they took legal action to stop the re-issuance of a Clean Water Act waiver that allowed Goleta Sanitary District to dispose only partially-treated wastewater into the ocean off Goleta; they have worked with various sanitary districts to incentivize sewer hookup in areas where septic systems don’t belong (near creeks, on the beach, in unsuitable soils, etc.); they have targeted the Contaminated Groundwater Remediation issue where they helped by digitalizing information on contaminated groundwater beneath the City of Santa Barbara; and they are advocating and supporting recycled water projects for landscape irrigation and advanced water recycling for groundwater recharge throughout Santa Barbara County.

Take a look at this amazing article on how people are helping the elderly and people with terminal diseases to overcome and have the time of their life.