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This year was one of Orange County Coastkeeper’s best yet! From championing statewide policy that protects our coast to hosting a record 83 trash cleanups throughout Orange County, none of it would’ve been possible without the support of our community.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on what made 2023 so special. These achievements stand as a testament to our team’s collective dedication and our community’s unwavering support.

We’re determined to build on this momentum and make an even bigger splash in 2024. Please consider donating today or becoming a member to join us in protecting the waters where we all live, work, and play.

  1. Passed Assembly Bill 655, a statewide ban on Caulerpa algae to prevent further damage to our marine ecosystems. The Californian coast has suffered from several costly and damaging Caulerpa algae invasions, including one currently disrupting Newport Bay. The most likely cause of these infestations is illegal dumping of aquarium water containing Caulerpa. To prevent more Caulerpa outbreaks along our coast, we worked with Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris to develop Assembly Bill 655, which Governor Newsom signed in July. The new law will ban all sale, possession, or release of Caulerpa starting January 1, 2024.

  2. Hosted 96 in-class lessons and field trips at no cost to Orange County schools. Our students explore watershed and ecological concepts in their own community through in-class lessons and field activities such as hikes, water quality testing, treatment plant tours, tidepool explorations, and habitat restoration.

  3. Forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reassess the environmental impact of its Newport dredging project. The Army Corps and City of Newport Beach did not adequately analyze the environmental impact of their dredging and disposal project in Newport Bay. By enforcing the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, we pressured the Army Corps to conduct additional environmental reviews of the project.

  4. Hosted 83 trash cleanups, removing over 17,000 pounds of debris from our waters. As waste continually pollutes our streets, waterways, and beaches, our cleanups provide an opportunity to intercept pollution before it can reach the ocean. This year, we hosted more public and private cleanup events than ever before.

  5. Secured a stronger water discharge permit for the retired San Onofre nuclear plant. The previous permit only required water sampling twice a year and tested for just three components: pH level, temperature, and dissolved oxygen. We successfully convinced the San Diego Regional Water Board to adopt a revised permit that requires quarterly monitoring and extensive testing for pollutants such as bacteria, metals, and sediment.

  6. Reduced pollution impacting our waterways by enforcing the Clean Water Act. Our team monitors water runoff from local industrial facilities to uncover the sources of pollutants in our waterways. After months of research, we litigate to force polluters to clean up their operations and comply with the Clean Water Act. To date, our attorneys have a 100% success rate.

  7. Celebrated Kids Ocean Day with over 1,200 students in Huntington Beach. Our education team led students from 15 elementary schools across Orange County through an in-class assembly, beach cleanup, and communal art project. This annual event inspires local youth to celebrate and protect our coast.

  8. Advocated for increased research and restoration activities in our Marine Protected Areas. MPAs safeguard Orange County’s rocky intertidal and reef habitats, providing a sanctuary for marine life. However, this protection has inadvertently limited areas available for scientific study, hindering researchers’ ability to gather data that could help us improve our ecological health and climate resilience. We’ve petitioned the State to adopt a new language allowing permitted research and restoration projects.

  9. Coordinated 35 simultaneous cleanup events for Orange County’s Coastal Cleanup Day. In addition to our hosted cleanups, we serve as the regional coordinator for California Coastal Cleanup Day, providing supplies and support for the state’s largest annual volunteer event. Across inland and coastal Orange County, 5,375 volunteers participated in 35 cleanup events to remove 21,350 pounds of trash from our parks, beaches, and waterways.

  10. Partnered with local community organizations and the State of California to promote water conservation. Saving water is the quickest and easiest way to prepare for our state’s uncertain water future. This year, we supported the Save Our Water campaign to educate Orange County residents on conserving water at home.

With your support, we’ll achieve even more in 2024.