Healing the Bay, and Beyond


Mark Gold was the first hire of Heal the Bay after having volunteered for the young organization since 1986. Twenty-five years later, Mark has stepped down as the organization’s president in order to become an associate director of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Now, we would never try to sum up two decades of Mark’s work in the field of coastal protection and water pollution with a handful of questions, and thankfully we don’t need to. Those eager for the wit and wisdom of half a lifetime of experience with the climates, communities and celebrities of Southern California’s world of water and other environmental issues, will find that and much more in Mark’s blog, Spoutingoff.

While we’re eager to see what Mark will accomplish at UCLA, it’s tough to see him leave Heal the Bay. And the feeling is mutual. In Spoutingoff, he writes, “The decision to step down as president of Heal the Bay was one of the toughest decisions of my life. …For the last five years, I’ve been obsessed by thoughts that I could have a larger beneficial impact in the environmental field.”

We sat down with Mark to see what he’s learned in his time at Heal the Bay, what he’s yet to learn, and what he has to teach those to follow him.

LA Stormwater: Heal the Bay has accomplished numerous successes towards water quality issues through the years. Do you have a personal favorite success story at Heal the Bay you would like to share?


Mark Gold: We’ve worked with LA on a lot of stormwater wins over the year. Everything from a Stormwater Pollution Abatement Fee in the early 90s to last year’s groundbreaking Low Impact Development ordinance. The Stormwater modeling and water quality compliance plans were also big achievements. But the biggest achievement has to be Proposition O. The largest municipal stormwater pollution abatement bond ($500M) in American history will result in cleaner beaches, rivers and lakes.

LA Stormwater: As a UCLA alum, what excites you the most about working as an associate director at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability?


Mark Gold: As a lifetime Bruin, I’m excited about learning about the diverse environmental research occurring across campus. I can’t wait to learn about environmental research far beyond coastal resources and water quality. Also, I’m eager to work with others to grow the Institute of Environmental Studies (IoES) and make it even more impactful on solutions to environmental problems.


LA Stormwater: Do you have any advice for your fellow Heal the Bay members, volunteers and clean water advocates in the Los Angeles area?  


Mark Gold: As Dorothy Green and Mark Twain have said, “water is worth fighting for.” We’ve come a long way on local dry weather runoff water quality issues, but we’ve barely scratched the surface on reducing stormwater pollution. Make yourself heard. Become an activist at city council that demands funding for rainwater capture and water recycling efforts at LADWP. Generate wide-ranging support for the countywide stormwater funding measure in 2013. Also, push the Regional Water Board to toughen up the first LA county stormwater permit in over a decade. The permit needs to require greater accountability for cities and the County to reduce runoff pollution to better protect public health and aquatic life.


Comments (3)

  1. Stephen Groner
    February 9th, 2012 at 10:26 am

    What a thumb print Mark has left on the Santa Monica Bay. Thank you Mark for your smarts, passion, and audacious thinking.

    • LA Stormwater
      February 13th, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Thanks for the comment and the kind words for Mark, Stephen!

  2. brian murphy
    March 1st, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    this 500m dollars seems to me to be a colossal waste… we have ruined the estuary at the santa monica creek… there were once two dozen different types of birds that one could see there… i have a office in that canyon, was a st. beach lifeguard for six years, and surf 180+ days/ year… and have not been sick in three decades… [that was food poisoning…]
    i have spoke w many of the people working on this project… and i have yet to meet one who feels that this is going to work… there are still houses on septic in santa monica canyon… lower mandaville…
    this is a classic example of a “rube goldberg”
    i personally do not think that it will ever work… and after we have wasted 500m the same people will probably come back w another great plan…
    keep it simple, passive, low tec.,
    the water is sooo much cleaner now than it was when i was sitting in the towers… we never saw dolphin/seals/whales/sharks… which are today observed daily…
    every other popular song has a line “i will love you until the mountains run to the sea…” THIS IS A WELL INTENDED… BAD IDEA

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