Giving Tuesday


Giving Tuesday is a national day to celebrate gratitude and giving back – and Heal the Ocean sends our deep thanks to all those who choose us to support. Your gifts, love, and donations keep us moving forward in our work for a clean ocean and unsoiled groundwater.
The coming year will be filled with significant, newsworthy successes. Big ones. If you would like to join our effort to make a difference for the Ocean, please go to our Donation Page, click the donate button below, or contact the office with gift information (805-965-7570 or 
We thank you so much for your support this Giving Tuesday!
With all good wishes,

The HTO Team

A Great Offer from SB Shellfish Company to Benefit HTO


REMINDER! If you haven’t bought a ticket to dine at the Shellfish Co. for half price (while benefiting Heal the Ocean) do it today; and, while you celebrate the sea, enjoy SB’s freshest seafood.

Each ticket is $30 but is worth $60 to spend on food and drinks at the restaurant, and 10% of all proceeds benefit HTO! Tickets must be purchased at by this Friday, November 30, 2018, to take advantage of this great offer.



In this E-Letter:

  • TONIGHT AT 9PM ON PBS! Watch Julia Louis-Dreyfus Receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (link provided here)!

  • SB Shellfish Company Supports HTO 

  • Tavarua, Fiji--a trip of a lifetime!

  • Hillary Hauser's Santa Book for sale now-- a portion of proceeds benefits HTO!

  • HTO Event 2018 Photos are Here -- check out our Facebook page!

  • Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Julia - Mark Twain Prize - Tonight!
(And Watch Jack Johnson Sing "Better Together")

  Julia Louis-Dreyfus receiving the 21st Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Credit: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts / The New York Times

Julia Louis-Dreyfus receiving the 21st Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Credit: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts / The New York Times

You don’t want to miss HTO's famous Advisory Board members Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jack Johnson on stage tonight at 9 p.m. local time for the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

On Saturday, October 20, 2018, Julia Louis-Dreyfus won the most prestigious award in comedy, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, at the Kennedy Center, Washington DC. This huge event was attended by pals and co-stars – including our beloved rock music magician Jack Johnson singing “Better Together” on stage.

You can watch it on your iPad or computer on PBS's live stream!

A Great Offer from SB Shellfish Company to Benefit HTO


Through the end of November 2018, you can buy a ticket to dine at theShellfish Company for half price... and benefit Heal the Ocean at the same time!

Owners Tom White & Adam White are once again making this great offer through Central Coast Dining. Through the end of November, you can buy your ticket on, and use that ticket any time before the end of February 2019. Each ticket is $30, but is worth $60 to spend on food and drinks at the restaurant, and 10% of all proceeds benefit HTO! The Shellfish Co. is the atmospheric total-fish house on the end of Stearns Wharf. Thank you Tom and Adam White!

Give a Fabulous Gift to Yourself & a Friend this Holiday Season...

a Trip to Tavarua, Fiji!


Treat yourself or a friend this holiday season with the gift of a lifetime--a trip to Tavarua, Fiji! With two great time windows for travel, November 2018-February 2019 OR November 2019-February 2020! This is a week of pure paradise and relaxation.

Make the great escape to your own Tavarua Island Resort beach bungalow (“buré”) for 7 nights. When you aren’t in the crystal blue water or relaxing on the sandy white beaches, you can hop aboard one of the panga boats for surfing, fishing, snorkeling, or make day trips to nearby islands. Or, have a massage by the pool. Or…you can find a private spot anywhere on the island beach for solace and meditation.

Tavarua Island is a small, heart-shaped island in Nadi Bay. The Resort is known for its environmental work on the island and in neighboring island villages. 
Pack your swimsuit and your snorkel; this is a trip you won’t want to miss!

Read the information below and contact Alison Thompson at the HTO office if you are interested in this fabulous opportunity( or (805) 965-7570). You might be surprised how fast you'll find yourself on the Island because of the great Tavarua crew that handles ALL of your travel arrangements and works with you to ensure quick and easy scheduling!


One Week Vacation on Tavarua, Fiji Package for 2 Adults Includes:

• 7 Nights at the Tavarua Island Resort

• 3 Gourmet Buffet-Style Meals per Day

• Boat use for Daily Activities (Surfing, Fishing, Snorkeling, Day Trips to Nearby Islands) & Island Transfers


  • Offer valid from November 2018-February 2019 OR from November 2019-February 2020 based upon availability. Excludes holiday weeks for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

  • Also not included: Taxi (ground), Helicopter Transfers, Bar Items, Boutique Items, Wifi, and Massage. All Sales Final. No refunds or exchanges.

  • Airfare not included.

(Thank you Tavarua Island Resort/David and Jeannie Clark!)

Hillary Hauser's Santa Book is for Sale!

Santa press pg-1.jpg

“The Truth About Santa Claus” is a delightful book for children and adults alike – and at $10.99 is a great gift to take to your friends during the holidays. It’s a clever way to explain Santa Claus to children and it is fun for everybody to see how Santa gets “put together” by all the qualities represented by the Jolly Old Elf.

The book was written and illustrated in 1949 by HTO Executive Director Hillary Hauser’s mother and aunt, who made the book to read to their children. Hillary went to work with HTO’s talented graphic designer Debbie Bellman of Bellman Design to colorize the art, which was almost lost in a faded Xeroxed copy unearthed in the bottom of a box of papers.
The book is available on, and a portion of sales benefits Heal the Ocean!

Photos From Heal the Ocean's 2018 Event are Here! Have a Look-Through to See How we Celebrated Our 20th Birthday!

 All photos by Priscilla.

All photos by Priscilla.

Heal the Ocean’s 20th Birthday Celebration on October 27, 2018 was the most fun, EVER! What a great group gathered at the El Paseo, with our wonderful sponsors and friends, politicos and supporters mingling in a party that netted a wonderful sum to support our work! Great celebratory tributes came from County Fire Chief (Ret.) Eric Peterson,  City Fire Chief (Ret.)Pat McElroy, our beloved state senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, and our Honorary Chair Julia Louis-Dreyfus blew us a kiss from her dressing room at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where she was being honored with the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (airing on PBS tonight, Monday, November 19, 2018!).

Music by Jason Libs got everyone on their feet, dancing and hopping – and surprise musical performances were given by HTO Public Outreach director Ruston Slager on piano; surfer/musicians Denny Aaberg & Simone Reddingius on guitars, and HTO Executive Director Hillary Hauser on piano – and some other impromptu rock-out performances that came from members in the audience. The beautiful room was created by HTO Event Manager Heather Hudson and her committee – Shannon Trotta and HTO Operations Coordinator Alison Thompson. The Live Auction was conducted by Los Angeles auctioneer Rick Werner, who had video assist on one of the items by Jack Johnson. HTO is so proud of the fact that both Jack said to red carpet interviewers at Kennedy Center that he knew Julia because of their mutual love and work for the environment – and because “we are both advisory board members for Heal the Ocean.” Wheee!

To view the Event photos, please check out our Facebook page (or click on the above photo).

Happy Thanksgiving to All!


We hope you have a great Holiday with family and friends this week. Big thanks to all our wonderful donors who have made 2018 the mostwonderful year in our history!

And while we are thankful, we send prayers to those who have gone through devastating losses in the California fires, and to those without homes. To help those who have been affected by this devastation, please check out this article



Heal the Ocean's 20th Anniversary Celebration 2018 was a sold-out, smashing success! Our Live Auction was Really Alive...and our Auctioneer Rick Werner got some lively bidding going. The great news is that the dear HTO supporters who were the high bidders for the “One Week Vacation on the Beautiful Island of Tavarua, Fiji” auction package have graciously let us keep their $6,000 bid while turning the trip back to us to be resold! Good News for YOU – this vacation for two people has a value of over $5,400 (please note that airfare is not included), and the first response to this email can BUY IT NOW for $5,000! 

Email to purchase this package or for more details. Your donation will go directly to our important and effective mission to remove sources of ocean pollution. Thank you!

PS - Stay tuned for HTO 2018 20th Anniversary Celebration photos! 

Heal the Ocean's 20th Anniversary In the News

  There was a lot of love in the room at the El Paseo on Saturday, October 27, 2018 when people came together to celebrate Heal the Ocean's 20th Anniversary. It was a night to remember. (Photo: John Palminteri/

There was a lot of love in the room at the El Paseo on Saturday, October 27, 2018 when people came together to celebrate Heal the Ocean's 20th Anniversary. It was a night to remember.
(Photo: John Palminteri/

Heal the Ocean Celebrates
20 Years of Water Improvements

Tributes from Jack Johnson and Julia Louis-Dreyfus

The following is from KEYT-3 by John Palminteri

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The ocean and water watchdog group Heal the Ocean celebrated its 20th anniversary over the weekend. 

The event at the El Paseo restaurant featured videos, auction items andtributes. Among those honored were retiring Santa Barbara Coutny Fire Chief Eric Petersen and Retired City Fire Chief Pat McElroy.  

Heal the Ocean has spoken out strongly about efforts to clean up and cap leaking oil wells along the Summerland coastline that have polluted the waters there. It helped to do aerial surveys and effort legislation through State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) that resulted in $14-million in state money for those projects.

It has also worked on multiple projects to bring neighborhoods on septic tanks get their system and  into water treatment facilities if they are in areas where creeks and groundwater are impacted.  They also supply biodegradable doggy bags for beaches and parks.

The group started in 1998 with hand-made flyers and stickers.  They have led many efforts to speak to city and county leaders in support of ocean water cleanup projects.

"Thank you for all the work you continue to do," said singer Jack Johnson via video from Hawaii.  "I wish I could be there."   He donated two tickets at Aloha stadium to his upcoming show with the Eagles.

Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus sent in a video from Washington D.C. where she was attending an event to receive a Mark Twain Award for comedy.  She said, "You're turning 20 years old?  What?   That means next year you can drink!   I send all my love."   She then blew a kiss.

The event also featured a toast from Senator Jackson, and live music with Jason Libs from the Red Piano

Thursday, November 1, 2018 
by Richard Mineards

A tidal wave of generosity swept over the historic El Paseo restaurant when Heal the Ocean, celebrating its 20th anniversary, hosted its annual sold-out gala, raising around $200,000 from 200 guests.

The bustling bash had Montecito actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, recently recovered from a breast cancer scare, as honorary chair and Los Angeles auctioneer Rick Werner selling off a cornucopia of goodies, including a Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Oahu, getaway to see Jack Johnson and The Eagles, a week’s vacation to the Fijian island of Tavarua, and an oil painting of a Channel Islands sunset by artist Rick Garcia.

Among the tsunami of tony types flooding into the eatery for Hillary Hauser’s popular charity were John and Hazel Blankenship, Hannah-Beth Jackson, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Heather Hudson, Shannon Trotta, Alison Thompson, John Palminteri, Mahri Kerley, Teresa McWilliams, Pat McElroy, Janet Wolf, Eric Peterson, Gregg Hart, Trish Reynales, and Das

More pictures to come soon...

In the meantime, PLEASE VOTE! This election is very important for the ocean, for the environment, and for our quality of life. 


Please get to the polls! Thank you!



 Julia Louis-Dreyfus receives applause at Kennedy Center Sunday, October 21, 2018, with husband Brad Hall at her side.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus receives applause at Kennedy Center Sunday, October 21, 2018, with husband Brad Hall at her side.

On Saturday, October 20, 2018, Julia Louis-Dreyfus won the most prestigious award in comedy, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, at the Kennedy Center, Washington DC. This huge event was attended by pals and co-stars – including our beloved rock music magician Jack Johnson singing “Better Together” on stage.

nationwide broadcast of this event will air on PBS at 9 p.m. ET (check local time) Monday, November 19.

 Jack Johnson on stage performing "Better Together."

Jack Johnson on stage performing "Better Together."

Meanwhile, from her dressing room, Julia sent Heal the Ocean a big video congratulations for our 20th birthday celebration, to air at our Annual Event taking place Saturday night October 27, 2018, at the El Paseo Restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara.*

“Happy Birthday, Heal the Ocean,” Julia says, “You’re twenty years old? WHAT? That means next year you can drink!”

Heal the Ocean Advisory Board Member Julia Louis-Dreyfus wishes Heal the Ocean a happy 20th for HTO's 20th Anniversary Celebration on October 27, 2018!

Meanwhile, on Jack Johnson’s Instagram page came a reference to both Julia and Jack being HTO Advisory Board members in a description of a neat picture (taken by his wife, Kim Johnson) of Jack at the table with Julia, Tina Fey, and fellow comedians and members of the fabulous “VEEP” cast, celebrating after the Big Bash at Kennedy Center. 


Happy 20th Birthday to us, Julia and Jack! You have been with us from the beginning, you have helped us to be what we are. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for being on our team.

*We wish the El Paseo was bigger to accommodate everyone – but we are entirely sold out.

P.S. Don't miss the evening news tonight (Tuesday, October 23, 2018) on KEYT for a look at HTO's meeting today with Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and her staff, together with State Lands Commission project director Walter Scott who will oversee the capping of the next oil well off Summerland Beach!

October 2018 E-Letter #2


In this E-Letter:

  • State Lands Commission Starts Process for Next Summerland Well Capping

  • HTO Gets Beach Testing Back on SB County 2019 Legislative Platform

  • HTO 2018 Event-Nearly Sold Out & Live Auction Preview

  • SB Shellfish Company Supports HTO

  • A Message to the Montecito Community

  • VOTE!

State Lands Starts Process for Capping Next Summerland Well!

 SLC request for proposals on CA Procure website.

SLC request for proposals on CA Procure website.

Heal the Ocean received a great call this week from the State Lands Commission (SLC), to tell us that the contracting process has started forcapping of the next oil well leaking off Summerland beach. SLC project director Walter Scott e-mailed us a copy of the Request For Qualifications (RFQ) website page used by the Commission to invite bids from contractors for the capping work. The bid closed on October 12, 2018, and according to Walter Scott, his agency is currently reviewing the proposals and qualifications of the interested parties, and expects to select a firm by the end of November 2018 (Happy Thanksgiving to us!) According to SLC petroleum drilling engineer Steve Curran, the actual work is expected to begin anywhere from May to July 2019.

HTO gives another big shout-out to State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson for authoring SB 44 - the Coastal Hazard & Legacy Oil Well Bill which has brought $14 million for capping leaking "Legacy" wells off the California coastline - including Summerland. The senator is bringing her staff to Summerland Beach on Tuesday, October 23, 2018, to meet HTO and Walter Scott, who will take all of us to the site where Becker Well used to leak all over the beach. Becker was successfully capped in February 2018.

HTO Ensures County Keeps Ocean Water Quality Testing
in Legislative Platform 


On October 9, 2018, the County Board of Supervisors held its hearing for the 2019 Legislative Platform, which identifies issues the County targets for federal or state funding. We advocated for Funding Sustainable Groundwater Management and inclusion of Recycled Water as a means to replenish groundwater basins.  Additionally, we insisted that the Homeless platform include water quality issues. Legislating for water quality in relation to homelessness helps tap federal or state funding for multiple issues –helping homeless camps move out from watersheds and reducing pollution while improving water quality. (HTO funds the Home For Goodprogram to relocate homeless people who are camping in Summerland along coastal cliffs.)
Most importantly, Heal the Ocean spoke up to reinstate Ocean Water Testing – which had been deleted in entirety from the County’s 2019 Legislative Platform. Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf brought it up in Board discussion, and during our time at the podium, HTO insisted that it stay. As a result, we got a call from the County Executive Office three days after the hearing, informing us that Ocean Water Testing had been reinstated. HTO Policy Analyst Andrew Juiliano, who picked up the deletion in the first place, has been invited to participate in Legislative Platform meetings from here on out.

Heal the Ocean's 20th Anniversary Benefit -
A few seats left!

benefit photo.jpg

Heal the Ocean can't wait to celebrate 20 years of hard work for the ocean at our 20th Anniversary Benefit on Saturday, October 27! This year’s event at the Historic El Paseo Restaurant is nearly sold out—there are just a few individual seats remaining. So, if you haven’t purchased your individual ticket yet, hurry and do so, seats are going fast. This year’s event will feature very special guest speakers, guest talent, and of course, a night of rocking piano hits with our emcee Jason Libs.

Take a peek at the great Live Auction items being offered:

1. Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2019 Cinema Passes &
El Encanto Resort Package

  • 2 Cinema Passes for the entire 2019 SBIFF

  •  2 nights at Belmond El Encanto + Local Hot Spots Gift Cards!

2. “Sunset Over the Channel Islands” (30 x 30 Oil) by Rick Garcia


3. The Eagles with Jack Johnson & Royal Hawaiian Hotel Package

  • 2 concert tickets to extremely sold-out Eagles/Jack Johnson Concert at the Aloha Stadium + 3-night stay in the Royal Hawaiian + a ukulele signed by Jack Johnson

4. One Week Vacation on the Beautiful Island of Tavarua, Fiji!

A week on Tavarua? Wow!


5. Custom Channel Islands/HTO 20th Anniversary Surfboard &
El Capitan Canyon Package

  • CI Rocket Wide Surfboard + other surf goodies

  • 2 nights in a Creekside Cabin at El Capitan Canyon

6. "What’s in the Box" Surprise Offering!


To purchase an individual event ticket or make a donation please contact Alison ( // 805.965.7570)
visit our website!

A Great Offer from SB Shellfish Company to Benefit HTO


Starting November 6, 2018, dine at the Shellfish Company for half price, and benefit Heal the Ocean at the same time!

Owners Tom White & Adam White are once again making this great offer through Central Coast Dining. From Tuesday, November 6 through the end of November, you can buy your ticket on Each ticket is $30, but is worth $60 to spend on food and drinks at the restaurant, and 10% of all proceeds benefit HTO! The Shellfish Co. is the atmospheric total-fish house on the end of Stearns Wharf. Thank you Tomand Adam White!

A Message to the Montecito Community

(as appearing in the Montecito Journal, Thursday, October 18, 2018)


The recent juxtaposition of a Heal the Ocean quote in a “Committee for Water Security Ad” implies, by association, that we endorse the “Committee for Water Security” campaign.

  • We do not.

  • As a non-profit organization, Heal the Ocean does not endorse candidates for any office.

  • We find the use of our quote disingenuous. The quote is from a scholarly, researched paper recently published by Heal the Ocean on recycled water that has nothing to do with political candidates or any campaign.

  • Heal the Ocean has worked for years petitioning Montecito Water District to work together with Montecito Sanitary District to upgrade the MSD plant into a recycled water plant.

  • Heal the Ocean has been at countless hearings asking the MWD Board to get together with MSD on a recycled water facility. MWD has refused.

  • The campaign being waged by the “Committee for Water Security” in Montecito has dragged Heal the Ocean into this issue unfairly, and we protest.

  • Our approach continues to be to meet with MWD and MSD, as well as other districts in other communities, to find the most efficient ways to work together to collectively implement the procedures and systems to use discharge water rather than waste it.


PLEASE Vote on Tuesday, November 6!


Election Day is Tuesday, November 6! The deadline to register to vote is Monday, October 22! Don't wait; register today online or in person.

We at Heal the Ocean urge you to exercise your right to vote. There are many countries whose citizens don't have a say in life. Please cherish your right to speak up, by voting! Thank you!

October 2018 E-Letter


Happy Autumn and Pumpkins to All!


In this E-Letter:

  • Introducing HTO's New Policy Analyst Andrew Juiliano

  • HTO Releases Report on Vast Water Recycling Potential in CA

  • HTO's 20th Anniversary Celebration Coming Up - Check it out!

  • PLEASE Register to Vote 

  • Come See Us Saturday, October 13 at the SB Harbor & Seafood Festival

  • Shop on Amazon Smile to Give to HTO


  Andrew Juiliano

Andrew Juiliano

ZOOM! Slashing through the mud on his bike all over the world, winning awards and trophies and various other prizes, Andrew Juiliano, a magnum cum laude graduate in English Literature UC Santa Cruz, has landed at Heal the Ocean as our new Policy Analyst! Andrew grew up on the Jersey Shore,and has traveled the world on his bike, most recently pedaling through the mud as a professional bike racer in Belgium and founding and publishingGrit World Media & Racing in Santa Barbara. About three weeks after he began working for Heal the Ocean, Andrew learned that a writing project done in Belgium earned him a Lowell Thomas Journalism award from the Society of American Travel Writers. Congratulations, Andrew, and wow! We are thrilled to have you on our team!




HTO has just published  The Inventory of Municipal Wastewater Discharges to California Coastal Waters, a three-year research project headed by former HTO Policy Analyst James Hawkins. The report focuses on the vast water recycling potential in California - enough for eight million coastal Californians! The report, which was immediately picked up by local NPR Station KCBX, determined that 57 different municipal treatment plants discharged over 417 billion gallons of wastewater into coastal bodies of water throughout California. If 85 percent of that coastal discharge were recycled, water needs could be met for a fifth of California’s population.

The complete interactive study is available here

The printer friendly PDF is available here

You can hear the interview of James Hawkins on local NPR Station KCBXhere.

Additional thanks go to former HTO staffers Corey Radis, ME, and Alex Bennett, MESM, who provided valuable research assistance for the project.



Ditch the witch hats and put on your party clothes to join Heal the Ocean on October 27, 2018, at the historic El Paseo Restaurant for our Annual Benefit - always billed as "the funnest party of the year!" This year we're celebrating Heal the Ocean’s 20th Anniversary and all the great things HTO has accomplished! If you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, please don't wait, because tickets are going fast and we want you to be there with us!

Have a peek at the incredible Live Auction being offered:

1. One Week Vacation on the Beautiful Island of Tavarua, Fiji

2. Custom Channel Islands HTO 20th Anniversary Surfboard Package

3. Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2019 Cinema Passes Package

4. Aloha Stadium Concert: Eagles with Jack Johnson and the

Royal Hawaiian Ocean Front Hotel Package!

5. “Sunset Over the Channel Islands” (30 x 30 Oil) by Rick Garcia

6. Ocean Essentials Surprise Offering…What’s in the Box?
(You won’t want to miss out on this super special package...
it contains some BIG goodies!)

To purchase an event ticket, sponsor the event, or make a donation please contact Alison ( // 805.965.7570) or visit our website!



In California, the deadline to register to vote is 15 days before Election Day, Tuesday, November 6! Your registration must be postmarked or submitted electronically no later than Monday, October 22, 2018.

Don't wait, register today online!



On Saturday, October 13 from 10am-5pm HTO will be at the Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival! Stop by and snack on some super fresh seafood, talk to local SB fishermen and learn about all the fantastic ocean nonprofits in our community.

We will be selling HTO t-shirts, hats, and reusable stainless steel metal straws! Hope to see you there!



With the holidays around the corner, you might be gearing up to start your holiday shopping. If you find yourself heading to Amazon for Halloween decorations, new pots and pans before Thanksgiving, or some cozy winter pajamas, shop at, designate Heal the Ocean as your charity of choice, and Amazon will donate to Heal the Ocean with each of your purchases!

To select Heal the Ocean as your charity of choice, click the orange supporting button and search for Heal the Ocean! Happy shopping!



There is a significant source of water for up to 8 million Californians.

Heal the Ocean is proud to release The Inventory of Municipal Wastewater Discharges to California Coastal Water Bodies, an online interactive studythat documents the 417 billion gallons of treated municipal wastewater discharged at fifty-seven coastal locations in the 2015 calendar year. 
The study, led by project manager James Hawkins, MPP, involved a multiyear effort to collect, review, and analyze publicly available data to determine the total volume of treated municipal effluent discharged to California’s coastal water bodies. Heal the Ocean estimates that the reuse of 85 percent of these coastal discharges could meet almost 30 percent of water needs for California’s coastal cities.
In the spirit of transparency and to help advance the state's water policy efforts, Heal the Ocean is releasing its database of dischargers and flow data that forms the basis of the study. 

To view the online interactive study, click here.
For a printer-friendly PDFclick here. 

August 2018 E-Letter

In this E-Letter:

  • Viva la Fiesta! But Watch out for Confetti!

  • HTO Funds a Remedy for Summerland Homeless Problem

  • City Groundwater Cleanup Gathers Speed

  • HTO Cheers Montecito Sanitary District Recycled Water Pilot Project

  • “Fun in the Sun” Art Show by HTO's Ruston Slager

  • The Biltmore Cup - a One-Hour Mad Dash for Ocean Charity

  • SCAPE Online Art Sale - Catch it While You Can!



The long-held tradition of smashing someone's head with an empty eggshell filled with confetti (cascarone) has always been a hoot - and a big part of Santa Barbara's annual Fiesta. The tradition was great fun until the confetti became plastic or metallic/mylar - which does not degrade, but instead goes down the storm drain and into the ocean, where fish eat it. Several years ago Heal the Ocean took up the issue with the City of Santa Barbara Creeks Division, and we were successful in getting the city to contract for the covering of storm drains during Fiesta and Summer Solstice, and the sweeping up afterward. Still, this stuff gets away in the wind. Try to avoid it - and maybe use your best efforts to ask vendors if the confetti in their cascarones are "por favor el papel." Paper, please!

Meanwhile, Heal the Ocean operations coordinator Alison Thompson created a groovy little flyer that's going around town on this subject. Pleasedownload and share to help us get the word out!

Fiesta Infographic_No Confetti.png


  Drone picture of Summerland homeless camp 2017.

Drone picture of Summerland homeless camp 2017.

Homelessness is a problem in more ways than one: for sure it's no good for the people without shelter, food or mental help, but also homeless camps are widely recognized as a major source of water pollution because of lack of sanitation in the camps. Heal the Ocean has been tackling the problem in Summerland since Spring 2017 when a Summerland resident sent up a drone picture of a large camp on Union Pacific Railroad property. We immediately began working with Carpinteria/Summerland Fire Department and a Santa Barbara County sheriff to clean out the camps, which became a particular problem with the camp caught on fire.

Last month (mid-July 2018) Heal the Ocean signed an agreement with Home For Good Santa Barbara County to go a step further - to fund the Summerland arm of a program that brings in government agencies, foundations, and service providers to move homeless families and individuals into permanent housing and linking them to the support they need to recover and rejoin society.

We thank Jane Gray of Dudek for bringing us into this program, and for introducing us to the good people of Northern Santa Barbara County United Way, which has raised over $635,082 of a $800K budget to tackle the problem - which in Santa Barbara County also includes about 100 people living in the Santa Ynez River watershed. Jane organized a meeting between HTO and former Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, who is a Regional Coordinator in the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, with the result that HTO signed up to take on the financial needs of the Summerland part of the Home For Good program. Outreach work begins September 1, 2018.


On Monday, July 30, 2018, Heal the Ocean Executive Director Hillary Hauser appeared before a board meeting of the Montecito Sanitary District to lend 100% support for the District to move forward with a Recycled Water Project that will install on MSD property a Micro Pulse Flow Reverse Osmosis Skid. IDE Technology, builder of desalination plants and other industrial installations around the world (and which rebuilt the City of Santa Barbara's Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant) - will build the MSD project, which, when finished, will be capable of producing 6,400 gallons per day of Title 22+ recycled water for onsite reuse by the District. Title 22 "Plus" is a better quality than standard "purple pipe" water, and MSD plans to test the water on landscaping - flowers, lawns, hedges - with help from the Garden Club of Montecito. Heal the Ocean has worked for years on ways to help MSD get together with Montecito Water District on a joint State-supported project to upgrade the MSD wastewater plant to a recycled water plant, to produce water for irrigation (and thereby saving hundreds of gallons of potable water for its intended use) but the Water District would not agree. We see the IDE project as a positive forward move!


groundwater pollution.jpg

Heal the Ocean has tackled contaminated groundwater sites since our inception, spending years identifying particular contaminants and going through old records of monitoring wells and soil borings. We collaborated with Santa Barbara County Hazmat and the Regional Water Quality Control Board Hazmat section to organize information into the State’s Geotracker database, which has made it possible for the Regional Board to methodically prioritize sites for cleanup. It took us a while to get there, but we are amazed at the number of cleanup and monitoring orders coming in - four in July alone. HTO is copied on these orders, and we are gratified to see the fruition of our collaboration. 

Among the Santa Barbara addresses receiving orders for cleanup, monitoring, or investigation in July:



Ruston Slager has been with Heal the Ocean since our inception. In fact, Ruston started Heal the Ocean by organizing the August 1998 demonstration on the Santa Barbara County Administration Building, which led to HTO being founded. Ruston has many talents, one of which is painting....and on First Thursday, August 2, 2018 (tomorrow!) you are invited to the "Fun in the Sun" Art Show featuring Ruston's watercolors and pastels. Reception party is from 5-8 pm, and the show runs August 1-31, 2018 at the Santa Barbara Public Library, Faulkner Gallery West. Ruston is donating 50% of all sales to Heal the Ocean. Thank you, Ruston!


 Photo by Geoff Robinson

Photo by Geoff Robinson

On Sunday, August 26, 2018, a wild ocean-paddling race will be staged by members of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club and Coral Casino to raise money for a Santa Barbara ocean group. Entrants will meet at the Yacht Club for a breakfast and briefing, pay their entry fees ($20/$30) into a single pot and at the same time cast their vote for one of four ocean groups in Santa Barbara. The paddlers will then take off from the Yacht Club at about 10:45 a.m. on paddleboards, surfboards, kayaks, canoes - anything that floats and is human-powered - and make a mad ocean dash to the Coral Casino. The race is over by 12:45 at which time an after-race lunch celebration at the Coral Casino will take place and the winner of the pot will be announced. We hope it's Heal the Ocean - we're one of the four groups selected to possibly win the stakes of this wonderful, madcap race! We'll be at the Coral Casino at our table, and we look forward to seeing everyone there! Click here for entry form and for more info. Thank you!


 Virginia Kamhi “Butterfly Beach Reflections”

Virginia Kamhi “Butterfly Beach Reflections”

The great party by SCAPE (Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment) for Heal the Ocean goes on! See the paintings - which are still for sale online. For two weeks, from Wednesday, August 1 through Wednesday, August 15, you can purchase any artwork from the SCAPE show at list price. Scroll through the list of artwork here, then email Alison Thompson at the HTO office ( to arrange purchase and instructions on getting the work to you.

July 2018 E-Letter Special Edition: Heal the Ocean Gets City Styrofoam Ban Tightened at City Council

 Hillary Hauser asks Council to limit exemption clause on Styrofoam ban (photo by Alison Thompson)

Hillary Hauser asks Council to limit exemption clause on Styrofoam ban (photo by Alison Thompson)

IT WAS A GREAT DAY IN CITY COUNCIL ON TUESDAY. The Council voted to restrict plastic straws - after a heart-warming plea from beautiful children as well as heartfelt requests from physically challenged members of the community who told the Council they needed straws to have access to food/drink like everyone else…(the plastic straw regulation includes provisions for physically challenged people to have access to straws). HTO told Council that while we really wanted a total ban, we support the “ask-only” regulation because such regulation is said to reduce straw use by 80% or even 90%. We asked that straw-use numbers be checked a year after the Ordinance goes into effect on January 1, 2019.
But when it came to Styrofoam, the Council voted an outright ban, and this ban includes important language only Heal the Ocean insisted on.
As written, the proposed Ordinance on Styrofoam contained an exemption clause that would have given food retailers the ability to plead “hardship” every year. If they could prove Styrofoam was better for their product (i.e. Smoothies), or that changing to a more environmentally-friendly product would cause economic hardship, they could carry on with Styrofoam.
HEAL THE OCEAN challenged this language. We asked the City Council to change the wording to ONE YEAR and no more. As a result of our request City Council began to parse the word “hardship,” and in the end, City Council voted 7-0 to change the Ordinance to read that after one year, “hardship” cases will not be renewed. This means the Styrofoam ban is more like a real ban – and we salute the City Council for agreeing with us. The Styrofoam ban also goes into effect January 1, 2019.

Heal the Ocean Takes on Styrofoam and Straws



On Tuesday, July 17, 2018, the Santa Barbara City Council will vote on two Ordinances (styrofoam and plastic straws) important to all who love the ocean and the creatures that live in the ocean:

  • To ban the sale or use of Styrofoam in the city, and
  • To restrict ("ask only") on single use straws and plastic cutlery.

Heal the Ocean asks you to please come to the City Council meeting, which begins at 2 p.m. to urge the Council to ban Styrofoam and restrict straws.

Over 500,000 million straws are used (and discarded) every day in the U.S. Many big companies have banned single-use plastic straws outright: Starbucks, Ikea, Hyatt Hotels, American Airlines, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Hilton, and other hotel chains. Click here to see the national recognition of the need to fight plastic pollution from straws – the harm to marine life from these plastics is well documented. The least Santa Barbara can do is implement an “ask only” ordinance. Statistics reveal “ask only” restrictions can reduce straw use by 80-90%; at least it’s a start!

As for Styrofoam, it NEVER goes away, and sea animals ingest it. Please ask the Council to ban Styrofoam outright - no special conditions for companies claiming they need time to change. In the proposed Ordinance on Styrofoam, City Council should delete the “Exemptions” Clause 9.160.070.

Other businesses across the nation, especially smoothie businesses, stopped using Styrofoam years ago and are now using compostable products that are superior to Styrofoam. In Hawaii, Lanikai Juice and Jamba Juice use PLA (plant-based Polylactic acid) compostable cold cups – made of corn starch and sugar cane which insulates both cold and hot drinks very well.

  Jamba Juice smoothies in compostable plastic cups.

Jamba Juice smoothies in compostable plastic cups.

Other smoothie companies that have stopped using Styrofoam cups include Robeks (since 2013) and Smoothie King, which switched to recyclable plastic cups in response to their customers’ request for more eco-friendly materials.

The exemption clause in Santa Barbara’s proposed Styrofoam ordinance would allow one of the city’s most visible smoothie businesses to continue using Styrofoam, such that it would appear we would have an ordinance with no teeth. Also, we wouldn’t imagine that a major smoothie business would want to appear as an environmental pariah while everyone else has moved forward.

Every voice and opinion matters, use yours to help end the plastic pollution epidemic on Tuesday, July 17, 2018.

If you can't attend, click here to download a letter (we encourage you to personalize it!) you can copy and paste it in an email to the Council at  Please send by Monday, July 16, 2018.

Thank you! 

June 2018 E-Letter

In this E-Letter:

  • City Ordinance Committee Moves to Ban Styrofoam and Possibly Put a Dent in Plastic Straws
  • State Lands Commission Moving Forward with Next 3 Summerland Wells
  • Regional Board to get Update on HTO/RWQCB Groundwater Assessment
  • HTO’s Alison Thompson Received 2018 McGinnes Environmental Law and Advocacy Scholarship
  • Heal the Ocean’s Trio of Upcoming Events
  • Dogs of the Month: Boss and Maggie!


  These are biodegradable cups that can take the place of Styrofoam

These are biodegradable cups that can take the place of Styrofoam

Heal the Ocean salutes the City of Santa Barbara Ordinance Committee, which on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, voted to ban the sale and use of Styrofoam in the city. With some Committee members citing serious ocean pollution caused by Styrofoam and other plastics, they were in 100% agreement on the Styrofoam ban, but put the final vote on hold until the next Ordinance committee meeting on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 – a week delay – so that they could consider rolling into the ban an “ask only” regulation on plastic straws and cutlery as well. We applaud the Committee for these decisions – it is an important step that Santa Barbara can take to remove itself from being a contributor to the plastic ocean waste epidemic.

However, the Committee is considering Exemptions to the ban – to businesses claiming “hardship” in abandoning Styrofoam. Heal the Ocean has written the Committee, taking strong exception to such Exemptions. Blenders in the Grass has asked for an exemption, stating that their smoothies become “runny” in anything but Styrofoam. We have checked with the Kokua Foundation in Hawaii (formed by Jack & Kim Johnson, who also head the Johnson Ohana Foundation, which fights the use of plastic worldwide), and have learned in Hawaii Lanikai Juice and Jamba Juice moved away from Styrofoam some time ago. Both use compostable cold cups made of PLA (plant-based Polylactic acid) – made of corn starch and sugar cane and which insulates both cold and hot drinks very well.

Also since the Tuesday hearing, HTO has learned (from Marborg, as well as mailing centers that formerly accepted Styrofoam “peanuts” to reuse for shipping) that Styrofoam cannot be reused and cannot be recycled in Santa Barbara – it goes into the landfill, i.e., the environment.

Please attend the Ordinance meeting on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at 12:30PM in the Council Chamber of City Hall, to cheer the Committee for banning Styrofoam – but without exemptions– and thank the panel for curtailing the use of plastic straws.

And if you receive Styrofoam packaging in any shipment, take out your item(s) and send the box back, with the Styrofoam, to where it came from.


  HTO/Planck Aerosystems study identified leaking wells off Summerland

HTO/Planck Aerosystems study identified leaking wells off Summerland

On Thursday, June 21, 2018 (please note this date correction), HTO Executive Director Hillary Hauser will travel to Sonoma, Calif., to attend the State Lands Commission hearing, where she will lend applause when SLC petroleum drilling engineer Steve Curran gives the Commission a report on the successful capping of Becker Well on Summerland Beach, completed in February 2018. She will also encourage the Commission to approve a staff recommendation to begin the procedure for an implementation plan for SB 44, (Hannah-Beth Jackson, 2017), which is providing funds for the abandonment of leaking oil wells off the California coast, which includes permanent
abandonment of up to three leaking wells off Summerland. (Read HTO’s letter to the Commission here.

HTO thanks the State Lands Commission for its magnificent work to get these wells capped so that we can swim off Summerland Beach again!


image001 (1).png

When the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board passed the Human Right to Water resolution, a program created to collect data, identify, and track communities who do not have access to clean and safe water, HTO approached the Board to offer help. We hired Cal Poly intern Riley Haas to  organize groundwater data starting with the gathering of existing groundwater studies and water well data from priority basins such as Santa Ynez River Valley, Santa Rita, Lompoc Plain, Lompoc Upland, Lompoc Terrace, Careaga Sand Highlands, Goleta Basin, Santa Barbara Basin, Carpinteria Basin, and Montecito Basin.  When this report is finished it will be an important tool for the Regional Board to gauge sources of pollution, whether for nitrates or bacteria.  A progress report on this project will be presented at the June 28-29, 2018 Water Board hearing in Santa Barbara.


  Alison Thompson

Alison Thompson

HTO Operations Coordinator, Alison Thompson a graduate from UCSB with a BA in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in marine science and policy, has been awarded the 2018 McGinnes Environmental Law and Advocacy Scholarship. The scholarship has been established in the name of retired Environmental Studies faculty member, Marc McGinnes in recognition of his decades of service to the Environmental Studies Program at UCSB, as well as in the community along the lines of environmental advocacy, protection, law, and leadership. The award recognizes a graduating senior with outstanding academic achievement who has demonstrated passion and aptitude for environmental law and advocacy.

Alison received this award Friday, June 15, 2018, at the Environmental Studies Program’s 2018 Commencement Reception and Awards Program.

CONGRATULATIONS, ALISON, we're proud of you!



HTO PC Digital UseREV.jpeg

On Wednesday, July 25, 2018, from noon-8:00pm the Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment (SCAPE) is exhibiting at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum a fabulous collection of sea paintings under the banner, “Heal the Ocean One Painting at a Time.” This exhibit and art sale, to benefit HTO, will feature live music, wine, hors d'oeuvres, a raffle, and is free to the public. And it's in the Santa Barbara Harbor, a very fun place to be! We'll see you there....Thank you, SCAPE!


red piano.JPG

On Thursday, August 23, 2018, the Red Piano is hosting Heal the Ocean for a night of great entertainment with pianist Jason Libs and fantastic drinks will be mixed and served by our celebrity guest bartenders at Happy Hour with Heal the Ocean. Stay tuned for updates on our special musical party!


HTO Benefit Logo 2018.JPG

Heal the Ocean is 20 years old on August 28, 2018! So our Annual Benefit this year, being held Saturday, October 27, 2018, at the El Paseo Restaurantin downtown Santa Barbara will be a special 20th Anniversary Celebration Benefit! Come celebrate with us 20 years of ocean healing with good friends, comradery and joy, along with great Mexican cuisine, a few fantastic auction items, and captivating entertainment. Save The Date cards are going out now, and please call the office if you want to get on the guest list NOW. If you are interested in finding out more or sponsoring our event, please contact Alison Thompson at our office at (805) 965-7570 or


 Boss and Maggie

Boss and Maggie

HTO sends a big bark-out to Boss & Maggie, who made a nice contribution to Heal the Ocean's doggy bag program, which provides compostable dog bags to beaches and parks in the Santa Barbara South Coast. Boss & Maggie are the "children" of Dwight and Kimberley Lowell, who spend many days helping at animal shelters, and rescuing - and helping us. If you would like to join HTO's dog bag program, click here, and don’t forget to send uspicture(s) of your beloved pooch!

World Oceans Day 2018 E-Letter



Friday, June 8, is World Oceans Day! Designated in 2008 by the United Nations as a day to celebrate, protect, and honor the great big blue ocean we all love (and need to sustain life on earth). We can all get involved - very easily - because this year's theme is plastic pollution. Right now you can do the following:

Ditch the Straw

plastic straws on beach.jpg

Every day, over 500 million plastic straws are tossed out in the U.S. They blow in the wind, eventually to the ocean, where fish, seabirds, turtles mistake them for food. They do not biodegrade or dissolve in the ocean but break down into smaller and smaller microplastics that remain for hundreds of years. When you order a drink, remember to say "No straws please!" (You have to ask while you're ordering, once it's brought to you, it's too late.) Some restaurants are placing placards on tables telling customers they have to ask for a straw if they want one). 

(Use Your Noodles!)

image003 (1).jpg

A new idea being adopted by forward-thinking restaurants (at least Italian ones): use long, thin, tubular pasta as straws! The word is that drinks are cold, so “pasta paste” isn’t created. Try it –noodle straws- molto bene!

Lastly, bring your own reusable straw made of metal, glass or bamboo...or that big, long noodle!

Reject the Plastic Bottle

plastic bottle.jpg

This is a no-brainer! By the time you're drinking water out of a plastic bottle it's been shipped in hot trucks and/or container ships, and often they're exhibited outside grocery store entrances on big stacks of palettes, in the sun. All this means the water you're drinking out of these things has been cooked in plastic - UGH! Use a flask instead. They come in great colors and designs - and are WAY cooler than a plastic water bottle. While you're at it, buy products in glass containers.

Filter Your Fleece


We thought fleece jackets were so fabulous when they came booming onto the market - what a great way to use old plastic bottles! Ooooh, and they're soft and warm. Wait a minute, what? It turns out that such garments - and blankets - are sources of microfiber pollution - shed from synthetic garments such as nylon, polyester, or acrylic. The fibers shed in the washing machine, go down the drain, and wastewater treatment systems can't always catch them. They end up in the stomachs of sea animals andwork their way up the food chain into humans(Holy cow!) We'd say consider dry cleaning, but this will melt your jacket! So it's back to washing. Solution? Throw these items into a fiber filter bag before washing. The bag (available from specialty stores) collects the microfibers (like lint!), you can scoop this lint out of the bag and discard with care.

Check the Cosmetics


"Experience a micro-burst for glowing skin!" "Scrubbing beads will transform you!" etc. Microbeads, which share the same bad genes with microfibers, may scrub your skin smooth or, used in toothpaste, make your teeth white, but they are plastic - and even more lethal to ocean life - because they resemble plankton. Microbeads have been banned in the U.S. (Microbead-Free Waters Act passed in 2015), but cosmetics containing them are still being phased out and you will still find such cosmetics for sale. StartingJuly 1, 2018, the microbead law bans rinse-off cosmetics in interstate commerce and also stops the manufacture of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals containing microbeads. So, don't buy microbead products! Try a loofah sponge instead...(a natural one of course)!


There! You have all these useful ways to
participate in World Oceans Day - every day!

Thank you for celebrating with us.

May 2018 E-Letter

In this E-Letter…

  • CEC Report - One Step Closer to Recycled Water
  • Santa Barbara Contaminated Sites Getting the Heave-Ho
  • Look Ma! Plastic Turns to Horse Feed for Beach Cleanups
  • A Big Barkout to HTO Dogs for Buying Bags


In our campaign to reduce waste(d)water flowing into the ocean, Heal the Ocean has been working on the recycled water issue for many years. A part of that work has been to get into the issue of Constituents of Emerging Concern (CECs) that are not removed by secondary wastewater treatment methods. CECs are pharmaceuticals, chemicals found in personal care products and other contaminants that wash down the drain. They must be removed from recycled water intended for human use. To tackle the CEC problem, the State Water Resources Control Board commissioned the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) in Costa Mesa, California, and in 2010 expert panels began meeting to wrestle with the CEC subject. HTO attended a number of these panel discussions in person and by webinar, and we read draft reports and made input both long and short. The final 178-page report, Monitoring Strategies for Constituents of Emerging Concern (CECs) in Recycled Water: Recommendations of a Science Advisory Panel was released May 10, 2018 and is now posted on Heal the Ocean’s website.



There has been a lot of action with shallow groundwater cleanup in the City of Santa Barbara!

Heal the Ocean has tackled contaminated groundwater sites since our inception, spending years identifying particular contaminants and going through old records of monitoring wells and soil borings. We collaborated with Santa Barbara County Hazmat and the Regional Water Quality Control Board Hazmat section to organize information into the State’s Geotracker database, which has made it possible for the Regional Board to methodically prioritize sites for cleanup. The cleanup orders continue to come in, HTO is copied on these orders, and we are gratified to see the fruition of our collaboration.  

Among the Santa Barbara addresses receiving orders for cleanup, or in the process of cleanup are (click the live link to read the Regional Board order):


FEed bags.JPG

For our annual Earth Day beach cleanup with EF International Language School in April, Jack and Kim Johnson's Kokua Foundation directors suggested we use horse feed bags instead of plastic for our beach cleanups. EF Language School Volunteership Coordinator/Community Outreach director Susanne Heirling, Santa Barbara, jumped on the idea immediately and went to La Cumbre Feed to ask for bags, and bingo, away with plastic! The feed bags are about the size of a garbage bag but are made of sturdier material. La Cumbre Feed continues to supply - and we now have a huge supply. We distribute these bags to community members for cleanups and we now offer them to fellow environmental organizations in Santa Barbara, to share these bags with as many people and organizations as possible. If you or an organization you work with would like to pick up feed bags,please contact Alison Thompson at Heal the Ocean by calling (805) 965-7570, or email ( This isn't horse feed, it's the real deal!


dog montage.jpg

In early May, we heard from Aye'la, a long-time beach-loving pooch who has been supporting Heal the Ocean's Doggy Bag Program for years. She had another donation for us. We are grateful for Aye'la's help and for our dog bag dispenser sponsors as well as the many contributors who donate to our Doggy Bag Program. Just $60 buys 1,000 compostable bags (non-plastic!) - and your dog can donate in his or her name. Please send your furry donor's picture so we can post on our website. Please click here to get into the pack. Thank you!

April 2018 E-Letter

In this E-Letter…

  • Going After Septic Regulations in Sacramento
  • New Operations Coordinator Alison Thompson
  • State Lands Hangs HTO Art
  • Summerland Oil Capping…What’s Next?
  • Visit us at Earth Day-Make Commitment to Everyday Green
  • Annual EF International Beach Cleanup Set for April 20, 2018


Judge and gavel.jpg

In February 2018, Heal the Ocean and Heal the Bay, Santa Monica, got notice from the State Water Resources Control Board that it was planning to approve 5-year waivers & TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) List Amendments to extend timelines for corrective actions as outlined in the regulations under AB 885, the septic system law authored by then-Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson in 2000. The regulations under AB 885 were fought for by Heal the Ocean and Heal the Bay in 2012. On April 5, 2018, our two organizations registered our objections to many of the proposed new deadlines for corrective action for septic systems operating in waters identified as polluted from Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS). On Friday, April 13, 2018, just four days before the State Board hearing on April 17, we received an entirely new staff report that incorporated changes that addressed nearly ALL our concerns. This makes us happy! Both our organizations will now proceed to chase down polluting septic systems in our perspective regions that are not on the waiver list.



We are excited to welcome Alison Thompson aboard as our new Operations Coordinator! “Ali” is responsible for keeping our office and programs running smoothly, and she will also assist on policy research and advocacy. Growing up in Huntington Beach, California, Ali has always been an ocean lover and conservation activist. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara, focusing her studies on marine science and policy. She has worked with non-profits in Washington, D.C. and with research labs in Santa Barbara in areas of marine conservation. In her free time, Ali can be found at the beach with her dogs or exploring the tide pools.



Maybe it’s the bright red fish on the cover of HTO’s recent newsletter that caught their eye - it’s a copy of an original work of art that hangs on the wall of the patron who bought it from HTO Executive Director Hillary Hauser, who painted it. But, when the graphics director of the California State Lands Commission (SLC) contacted us for permission to enlarge both the cover AND our 2-page story of the work we did to cap the leakingBecker Well on Summerland beach to create a wall hanging, we were truly honored. The SLC representative explained that this creation will be displayed in a private office as a tribute to the Becker success, because the agency had been struggling for many years to get this work accomplished.


 Image from Planck Aerosystems aerial survey/Gaemus Collins

Image from Planck Aerosystems aerial survey/Gaemus Collins

Heal the Ocean has learned from Steve Curran, State Lands Commission Drilling Engineer, that the Commission has picked for its second Summerland oil cleanup project the offshore well called “off the rock pile” (Rock Pile) - so named for the fact the leaking well is located in shallow water just off the east end of the beach where a jumble of rocks marks the shoreline. Curran said preliminary surveying (underwater) will begin in July, at the beginning of the State’s Fiscal Year 2018/2019, with funding coming from SB 44, state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s legislation that provides for $2 million per year for oil well cleanup. Curran says the Rock Pile project will use the same equipment and methods as the Becker capping - the barge and cofferdam brought in from Long Beach. It was identified in thePlanck Aerosystems survey commissioned by Heal the Ocean and funded by Manitou Fund, Minnesota. Some Summerland advocates are rumbling that Treadwell should be next in line, because it is causing a bigger mess on the beach, but Treadwell is an old well punched into a shallow earthquake fault, and involves infinitely more complicated technology to fix. Nevertheless, Heal the Ocean is staying on top of this one, to make sure it stays in front of SLC attention.


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Heal the Ocean will have a booth at the 48th annual Earth Day celebration in Alameda Park on Saturday and Sunday April 21-22, so please stop by to say hello, and to shop for our cool Heal the Ocean gear—t-shirts, coffee mugs, hats, sweatshirts, and boxes of “Fantastic Fishes” (c) note cards! Come learn about our most recent projects, and also follow us on Facebook(Heal the Ocean) and Instagram (@healtheoceansb) to stay updated on our ocean work.
But most importantly, make your own personal commitment to do what you can - every day - to help, by doing some or all of the following:

  • Read labels on cleaning agents - if you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it. Wastewater plants that are not full tertiary can’t process these chemicals (neither can septic systems), and so they end up in the environment;
  • Avoid “anti-bacteria” lotions and other products, especially tryclosan (use alcohol-based hand cleaners, and wash your hands often instead);
  • Refuse take-home food in styrofoam containers (ask for aluminum foil instead);
  • Remember to ask WHILE ordering drinks or water that you choose not to have a (plastic) straw;
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!


2017 EF Earth Day 3.jpg

EF International Language School’s Santa Barbara campus and Heal the Ocean, are going at it again with 300 students coming together on April 20, 2018 to tackle 10 beaches between Goleta and Summerland through beach cleanups! This is the third year in a row that HTO and EF International have partnered in the massive coastal cleanup, and this year it is again serving as a great start to EF International's Ocean & Environmental Awareness campaign entitled “Every Day is Earth Day.” Heal the Ocean kicked off the program with HTO’s Corey Radis speaking to students about the importance of keeping our beaches clean and safe.

On Friday, EF Santa Barbara will close its doors so that all staff, teachers, and students can participate. Heal the Ocean will be supplying HTO T-shirts and gloves for the beach cleanups. This year, for the first time, students will use old horse feed bags provided by La Cumbre Feed instead of plastic trash bags to reduce waste. After the cleanup, Heal the Ocean Executive Director Hillary Hauser will join Santa Barbara City Councilmember Gregg Hart and EF Santa Barbara School Director Kristen Reilly to address the students on ocean issues and commend their great Earth Day work. 

We look forward to seeing our EF friends on Friday and appreciate their time, dedication, and efforts that help us to keep our beaches trash free!

March 2018 E-Letter

In this E-Letter…

  • 2018 Newsletter – HOT OFF THE PRESS! 
  • Jonathan Wygant re-joins HTO Board
  • Volunteers Tackle Debris Cleanup on Summerland Beach
  • Fantastic Fishes Cards Now Available on HTO website


Heal the Ocean’s 20th annual newsletter has hit the press – and will be arriving in your mailbox soon! This year’s newsletter features a cover painting by HTO Executive Director Hillary Hauser, from her series “Fantastic Fishes©.” The pages of the newsletter are filled with montages of many pictures from the past 20 years, along with stories from the Montecito Mudslide, the capping of Becker Well, and other HTO happenings. Click here to read the PDF version of the newsletter, or email to be added to our snail-mail list. Hooozah!


We are pleased to welcome Jonathan Wygant (a founding HTO Board member) back to our Board of Directors! Jonathan is CEO and founder of BigSpeak, Inc. the largest business-oriented agency/consultancy in North America focused on serving the Fortune 1000 and multinational companies worldwide.  BigSpeak provides inspirational speakers, thought leaders and subject matter experts to corporate event, and also facilitates strategic change initiatives and executive development programs through BigSpeak Consulting. Before founding BigSpeak, Jonathan was the CEO and co-founder of Iris Arc Crystal, an Inc. 500 international giftware manufacturing company headquartered in Santa Barbara, California. While at Iris Arc, he built the company to 5000 accounts, 120 employees and 135 sales reps nationwide.


From mid-February to mid-March, 2018,  volunteers organized by concerned citizen Claire Yusingco gathered at Summerland Beach to haul off the piles of debris that washed ashore after the January 9th Montecito Mudslide. Volunteers are working with the County Park rangers to take truckloads of debris up to a dumpster. These hard workers filled not 1, but 2(!) dumpsters, and have plans to carry on additional cleanups. If you are interested in helping future debris cleanups at Summerland beach, email Thank you, Claire Yusingco!



Hillary Hauser’s books on marine life and underwater adventure include Skin Diver Magazine’s Book of Fishes, compiled from a monthly feature Hillary wrote for the magazine over many years. She got to know marine fishes down to every gill and stripe, so began to paint them. Her “Fantastic Fishes©” art has been exhibited in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, and of the 200+ pieces she created during her painting days, Hillary sold most of them.

Available now in HTO’s online store: - Gift boxes of Fantastic Fishes Cards, 8 images to a box, with envelopes and complete with the popular Pufferfish on the cover of the box, tied with black elastic bow. These make great gifts! $15.00 per box.


Just as Abe Powell’s Bucket Brigade has consistently and steadily dug the mud out of house after house in Montecito, with volunteers working “with their own two hands,” as Ben Harper and Jack Johnson sang at Jack’s Bowl concert on Sunday, March 18, the same goes for our beaches, which have been badly battered by the recent storms. Each pair of hands can do much! And nobody has to wait for an official organized beach cleanup to make this happen. Come by the HTO Office and get a pair of sturdy gloves and strong garbage bag, and that next beach you drive by, POUNCE on it, with your own two hands...and let’s see how fast the beaches start to sparkle again! Email for your gloves and bags.


  Photo by Heather Hudson

Photo by Heather Hudson

Summerland Beach was a scene of great joy this morning (Monday, February 26, 2018), as the barge from Curtin Maritime, Long Beach, arrived to the coastline and positioned itself to lower the construction equipment to cap the infamous leaking Becker Well. Heal the Ocean was there to confer with State Lands Commission officials, who were watching the operation from Lookout Park, and to discuss future operations to follow on the other offshore/underwater wells.

Under SB 44 (Hannah-Beth Jackson), there will be $2 million per year to tackle leaking, derelict wells and structures along the California Coast. To prepare for specific projects, and with funds provided by Manitou Fund, Minnesota, HTO hired Aqueos, Ventura, to conduct an aerial survey of the wells offshore Summerland. The results of the aerial survey identified four distinct wells, and HTO’s plan with Aqueos has been to follow that survey with a dive survey, so that offshore contractors can know exactly the requirements to cap these underwater structures.

We learned today while watching the Becker operation that part of the Becker project is a requirement for an underwater survey, to ensure that the capping is complete. State Lands petroleum drilling engineer Steve Curran told us this morning that there is enough funding from Becker to not only do the underwater examination of this well – but the others, too. That saves HTO a lot of money…which will go to other cleanup projects we have on our plate, courtesy of Manitou Fund. We thank Michael and Nora McNeely Hurley of Manitou for this invaluable support. The Hurleys were at the Becker capping today, and there were many reasons to celebrate.


Becker Well Project Going Forward Next Week!


  Photo by Nora McNeely Hurley taken mid-February, 2018

Photo by Nora McNeely Hurley taken mid-February, 2018

Heal the Ocean just heard from the contractors who are capping the infamous leaking Becker Well on Summerland Beach that the project is going forward! The InterAct barge will arrive off Summerland Beach on Monday, February 26, 2018 - next week - and the operation will begin! 

It is estimated that the capping project will take 3 to 4 days to accomplish. Heal the Ocean will be there to cheer on the oil field workers, to celebrate with champagne this very important project to clean the ocean off Summerland, and we thank the State Lands Commission officials for listening to all our pleadings to get this most important work done. 


February 2018 E-Letter

In this E-Letter…

  • Becker Well Capping Rescheduled for February 26
  • Mud Dumping Permit Expires February 20
  • Hillary Receives Medal from SB City Fire Department
  • Citizens Go to the Beaches to Help
  • Happy Valentine's Day!

FOR FEBRUARY 26 (2).jpg

Heal the Ocean has received notice from InterAct, the contractor for the State Lands Commission capping of Becker Well on Summerland Beach – that the project is back on the calendar for Monday, February 26, 2018! We are thrilled to see the notices posted around Summerland, and to see this work move back up to the starting gate. We are crossing our fingers that the weather and ocean are calm on this day and for the few days after, so that the contractors can get the work done. With Neptune’s help, Becker Well will be capped, and that project will give something good back to the ocean - perhaps a Thank-You present for helping the community in our extremity of dealing with the horrible fallout from the Montecito Mudslide.


  Public Works is grappling with the boulders that came down with the Mudslide.    Photo by Mike Eliason.

Public Works is grappling with the boulders that came down with the Mudslide. Photo by Mike Eliason.

Heal the Ocean is also pleased that the emergency permits that have allowed for the dumping of Montecito mud on Goleta Beach, as well as the deposition of debris basin material on Carpinteria Beach, are being allowed to expire February 20, 2018. We are told by Santa Barbara County Public Works that the Carpinteria operation has ceased already. Our hope is that the halting of these operations will allow the ocean to begin healing – so that the State Lands Contractors can cap Becker Well.  We hope and pray for quiet weather to help the homeowners still grappling with the difficulties of getting mud hauled off their private properties. We will be looking forward to a short range plan to find another spot for mud and sediment, and send our thanks to Public Works that it is looking for a spot to re-purpose all the hard materials that will come from the demolition of houses. The real work will be to come up with a long-range plan to handle such geological fall-out in the future if ever (heaven forbid) it happens again in Santa Barbara County. Plus, there is still the dilemma of what to do with the gigantic boulders that litter the landscape of Montecito.



One late afternoon, Hillary was working in the HTO office alone, when there came a knock on the door. She thought it was the night watchman, but in walked Santa Barbara City Fire Chief Pat McElroy, who placed what felt like a big coin in Hillary's hand. When she opened her fist she saw a Santa Barbara City Fire Dept. Medal, and as she stood there, stunned, Chief McElroy said, "We don't give many of these out.” He explained that HTO's role in acting as conduit for information to the Santa Barbara Community about the Montecito Mudslide disaster, and softening the blow to the public about the controversial disposal of mud on beaches was of enormous help not only to the Fire Department, but First Responders and all disaster workers. 


  Top row: Michael Hurley on Summerland Beach; Lily Issaris & Chloe Zamp at Goleta Beach Middle row: Rachael Randall and Forest, at East Beach; Claire Yusingco & friends at Goleta Beach; Bottom row: Maire Radis and family/friends tackle Loon Point

Top row: Michael Hurley on Summerland Beach; Lily Issaris & Chloe Zamp at Goleta Beach
Middle row: Rachael Randall and Forest, at East Beach; Claire Yusingco & friends at Goleta Beach;
Bottom row: Maire Radis and family/friends tackle Loon Point

Although concerned citizens couldn't get near the hazardous piles of debris that had washed down to the beaches during the catastrophic storm and Mudslide event on January 9, 2018, many wanted to help right away in some way - and so they went to beaches to pick up plastic items that had washed down with everything else. Many intrepid volunteers are still at it, and HTO has handed out numerous re-usable gloves and trash bags to people who come by our office to get them. Thank you, volunteers! HTO has plenty of sturdy gloves and bags for anybody who wants to help.


 Heal the Ocean sends our love and thanks to all of you!

Heal the Ocean sends our love and thanks to all of you!