Santa Monica stands up for clean water

Under the clear blue sky and the crashing of the ocean waves, a large crowd that included both participants and spectators gathered to spend the day in the name of clean water. For the second year in a row, the Los Angeles Waterkeeper hosted the Stand-Up for Clean Water event.

The event took place on Saturday near the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica, and included paddle board contests and a beach clean-up.

Some visitors took their morning yoga to the beach, while others brought their bongos and bells to cheer for the racing paddlers.

The day kicked off with the five-mile, paddle-board race. All of the different age categories competed at once. The first to cross the finish line was Riviera Paddlesurf's Thomas "Maximus" Shahinian from San Clemente.

"It was fantastic today," Shahinian said. "Beautiful conditions and not too much wind."

Paddling lessons were taught to those who wanted to learn while the competitors crossed the finish line, one after the other.

Once all the paddlers had crossed the finish line, the hosts of the event spoke to the crowd.

Liz Crosson, executive director at LAW, explained their mission and how they work to reach their goals.

"We fight for a drinkable, fishable and swimmable LA," Crosson said. "We just won a lawsuit in Malibu, which will help us in keeping those beaches clean from now on."

According to the LAW website, a lot of the work in the field is done by the Stormwater Assessment Team, which consists of volunteers. These teams gather water samples and help clean beaches and rivers, partly from information they get from their website where anyone can report pollution.

The LAW is part of the bigger Waterkeeper Alliance, which does its work all over the world.

"We do over 32,000 water inspections a year in L.A. county," said Pete Nichols, the National Director of the Waterkeeper Alliance. "Clean water is a basic human right."

Representatives from Toyota, who were a sponsor, also attended the event.

"We at Toyota believe in a strong environment," said Toyota's Community Outreach Coordinator Karen Matsuyama. "It's everyone's responsibility, especially big companies. We are proud to be a part of this."

Santa Monica Mayor Pro Tempore Terry O'Day spoke about the changes LAW has managed to accomplish.

"These are real improvements in our water quality. improvements that show on lab results," O'Day said.

He later pointed out that LAW plays an important role in the environmental work here in Santa Monica, where the environment is a high priority.

"But, before you say I'm just another politician," said O'Day as he rolled up his pants to reveal his ankle. "Let me show you my Waterkeeper tattoo."

After the speeches, the one mile paddle board fun race started, which included several children.

The end of the race turned more into a swimming contest since the waves threw most paddlers off of their boards.

Immediately after the one-mile race concluded, the paddlers who had paddled in the 17 mile downwinder from Point Dume could be spotted making their way to the shore.

Once they arrived on the shore, powered by the cheering audience, it was time to draw the winners in a raffle, where they could win everything from backpacks to boards.

The day concluded with an award ceremony for the competitors, and a final message from Crosson about the importance of their work:

"The job is not done, but has definitely come a long way," she said.

Niklas ThimComment