El Ni√±o is coming, we think, and Heal the Bay doesn’t want you to forget it.
In fact, the topic is of such importance to the organization that they have named Oct. 11 – 17, “El Ni√±o Week,” a seven day stretch dedicated to using special programming to educate the public about the major storms that could soon be hitting Los Angeles.
Heal the Bay’s director of programs, Meredith McCarthy, said this week was necessary because of the lack of awareness surrounding El Ni√±o.
“People are walking around saying the Godzilla Ni√±o is coming, but nobody could actually tell you what that meant or how that was going to impact our region,” McCarthy said. “And the education piece is very important to us, because even if we have a great El Ni√±o, it’s not going to solve our drought problems, it’s not going to solve our water problems.
“We still import most of our water from outside this region. So holding on to this rain water locally is something we have to move toward to be a resilient, sustainable city.”
Two programs included in El Ni√±o Week are a public lecture by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) climatologist Bill Patzert, and a presentation by Melanie Winter, a longtime water and land use activist and founder of the River Project.
“We like to educate and we like to make sure that people walk away with tools that they can put into action. And so Dr. Patzert, who is an incredible scientist from JPL, is going to lay the foundation, the science of El Ni√±o and weather and how this is tied to climate. And as we are a science-based organization the science is always very, very important to us
“And then there’s a way to put that immediately into action. So coming to the talk that Melanie is giving will give homeowners ways to put that information in action. How do we hold on to this water at our homes? And she’s going to talk about all the different ways you can do that.”
Other programs include the “Nothing But Sand” beach cleanup at Venice Beach, as well as contests and giveaways on Heal the Bay’s social media profiles.
Heal the Bay is also working with Santa Monica restaurants to promote awareness in a light way through the El Ni√±o Cocktail Program.
“We love all of our local bars around Santa Monica and a handful of them have created their El Ni√±o inspired libation for the week so that there are lots of fun ways to connect with people and spread awareness.”
Cassia, Hotel Casa Del Mar, The Lobster and Locanda del Lago will be mixing up the themed cocktails throughout the week, and Rusty’s Surf Ranch will be offering some promotions. A portion of the sales from this event will be donated to support the protection of local beaches and watersheds this winter.
McCarthy said educating residents about El Ni√±o is important because not everyone understands there are positives and negatives to the storms.
“On the one hand we desperately need the rain that El Ni√±o would bring, but rain creates urban runoff which is the number one source of pollution at our beaches and oceans. So it’s a mixed blessing for us.
“But it does present us with this opportunity to have this conversation about what we do with storm water runoff. And in this region we’re moving toward ‘one water’ thinking, which means all of our water is connected and we should never waste any of it by shooting it to the ocean as fast as possible. We should be reusing that water in many different ways.”
Despite the need for more awareness, McCarthy said the Santa Monica community is already pretty sensitive to the water and drought problems in California.
“Santa Monica has always had such a progressive thinking about water,” she said. “We’re the community that created the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Reclamation facility, which is the first of its kind. So it’s that innovation which makes our city really move the ball and really find unique and interesting progressive ways to solve this water problem.”
McCarthy hopes that Heal the Bay will have more people connected to them following El Ni√±o Week, people who will continue to stay informed about the water needs in the community.
“This is the beginning of how we need to educate about water literacy and where water comes from,” McCarthy said. “We as a community are going to have to vote in the future for funding measures to help us re-plum our cities to hold on to this water instead of shooting it to the ocean. And that’s going to really be a communitywide discussion.”
For more details on El Ni√±o Week (Oct. 11 – 17) go to http://www.healthebay.org/blogs-news/its-here-what-expect-during-our-el-ni√±o-week.