Our Mission:

Heal the Ocean focuses on wastewater infrastructure – sewers and septic systems – as well as ocean dumping practices that have contributed to ocean pollution. We are focused on Santa Barbara County, but our methods are now serving as a model for other coastal communities across the country.

Our mission maintains five definite goals:

  1. WASTEWATER UPGRADE & RECYCLING. Wastewater is waste(d)water. HTO actively works to secure grant funding for wastewater treatment plant upgrade and recycling projects that turn the water around for reuse rather than ocean disposal.
  2. SEPTIC SYSTEMS. Septic systems operate on the principle of leaching, and must be removed from inappropriate beach and creek areas. “Cluster overuse” must be dealt with by sewer hookup, which we facilitate by working with homeowner associations.
  3. NON-POINT SOURCE POLLUTION. Heal the Ocean plays an active role in the development of storm water permits, and has initiated a study of groundwater ocean interaction; we lobby for increased street sweeping and enforcement to prevent illegal dumping into creeks and storm drains.
  4. OCEAN DUMPING. Dredge and fill operations in the name of “restoring beaches” will not be performed unless materials are suitable and clean for beaches, and do not cause smothering of near-shore sea life.
  5. LANDFILLS. We take an active role in the prevention of toxic pollutants leaching into the sea from landfills.

We employ engineers, researchers and scientists, lawyers, GIS mappers, and other experts to locate sources of pollution, assess their significance and find solutions. We perform cost feasibility studies for upgraded wastewater management methods. We have conducted DNA tests in watersheds as well as virus tests in the ocean. To meet our objectives, we work with city, county and state agencies to initiate new programs and comply with those that already exist.

What We Do:

Our Philosophy: It’s simple: The ocean can no longer be used as a dump. Heal the Ocean is committed to ending ocean pollution.

Our Course of Action: We follow a basic premise: instead of lobbying the government for action on ocean-pollution issues, we study the problem ourselves and recommend practical solutions.

We undertake scientific studies to identify sources of pollution – from leaking sewer pipes, offshore sewage discharge, leaking coastal landfills or septic systems.

We test for pollutants in the ocean, creeks and groundwater to determine if human sources of bacteria are present, and what are the likely sources. In cooperation with Santa Barbara County, Heal the Ocean pioneered both the use of environmental DNA testing and virus testing in the creeks, rivers, and ocean.

We have commissioned numerous engineering studies and environmental assessments to determine the cost and feasibility of replacing septic systems, upgrading sewage treatment plants and installing stormwater treatment technology.

We have found that once the problem is known and cleanup costs are understood, the public is eager to move forward with cleanup and more willing to pay the price.


Our Team

Hillary Hauser
Executive Director

Hillary Hauser Hillary has been a writer/journalist/news reporter since 1968, with published books about the sea and underwater exploration, and magazine articles including National Geographic, Geo, Islands, The Surfer’s Journal, Reader’s Digest and the Los Angeles Times. From 1969 through 1977 she was West Coast stringer for Ocean Science News, Washington D.C., and from 1981-1986 was ocean/marine reporter for the Santa Barbara News-Press. She also was the former music critic for the Santa Barbara News-Press and is a long-time classical pianist.

James O. Hawkins
Policy Analyst

James O. Hawkins As Heal the Ocean’s policy analyst, James Hawkins is responsible for coordinating HTO’s research projects and working with Hillary Hauser, HTO’s executive director, on our key policy priorities and positions, in addition to organizing our eLetters and Newsletters and managing our social media accounts. James received a B.A. from UC Santa Barbara in political science and environmental studies with his senior thesis focusing on climate change. A Santa Barbara native, James enjoys spending his free time playing ultimate (Frisbee®), swing dancing, and just hanging out with friends.

Grant Schmitz
Office Director

Grant Schmitz Grant is a a former sound engineer for Hollywood productions, who was semi-retired but who jumped into work running our office at the end of February, 2012.

Marco Gonzalez
Legal Counsel

Marco Gonzalez Marco is a cofounder and partner of Coast Law Group LLP in Encinitas, California, where his practice area focus includes environmental law, land use, water quality and natural resource advocacy and litigation. Prior to founding Coast Law Group, Mr. Gonzalez was the Senior Attorney with San Diego BayKeeper, and Chairman/Legal Counsel for the Surfrider Foundation, San Diego. He is a frequent lecturer on environmental issues, land use and planning regulation, desalination, Mexico-U.S. border water quality issues, and the role of non-governmental organizations in environmental enforcement.

Ava Everett
PUBLIC OUTREACH COORDINATOR

Ava Everett Ava Everett is HTO’s public outreach coordinator. She worked with HTO as “office” administrator in the very first days of HTO when we didn’t even have an office, and now she is the one you’ll see at HTO tables at every public event, working side by side with Ruston Slager, who has also been with HTO since its beginnings.

Ruston Slager
Public Events Coordinator

Ruston Slager RUSTON SLAGER has been with HTO since the beginning days, and in fact can be credited with “starting” the organization, because he organized the public demonstration on the steps of the County Administration Building after Hillary’s “Genesis” article came out, lamenting the problem of Santa Barbara beaches being closed because of pollution. You will always see Ruston alongside Ava Everett at public events where HTO is involved – Earth Day, the Harbor Festival, and of course our own events. Ruston instructs adults and children with learning and developmental disabilities in community and school settings. He is a local musician and landscape artist.

The Full Team

The Full Team Jane Banick, HTO bookkeeper; Ruston Slager, Hillary Hauser, Ava Everett, and Hillary Tentler, HTO’s CPA.

Wolfy
HTO mascot

Wolfy

Board of Directors

Hillary Hauser
President & Executive Director

Hillary Hauser Hillary has been a writer/journalist/news reporter since 1968, with published books about the sea and underwater exploration, and magazine articles including National Geographic, Geo, Islands, The Surfer’s Journal, Reader’s Digest and the Los Angeles Times. From 1969 through 1977 she was West Coast stringer for Ocean Science News, Washington D.C., and from 1981-1986 was ocean/marine reporter for the Santa Barbara News-Press. She also was the former music critic for the Santa Barbara News-Press and is a long-time classical pianist.

Francesca Cava

Francesca Cava Francesca Cava, a longtime friend and supporter of HTO (and wife of John Robinson, who was on the HTO Board until he passed away in February 2011) has served since July 2009 as Arctic Policy Program Manager to the Aspen Commission on Climate Change. She developed the National Geographic Society’s Education and Children’s Programs, was project manager/education program manager for The Sustainable Seas Expeditions, a 5-year, multi-agency program to promote ocean conservation and increase public recognition of the importance of marine protected areas worldwide, and was also a California Coastal Commissioner (1995-1999). Francesca also served as this country’s director of the National Marine Sanctuary and National Estuarine Research Reserve Programs and is the first woman to attain the rank of Captain in the NOAA Corps. She was also the first Sanctuary Manager for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (1987-1989).

Jean-Michel Cousteau

Jean-Michel Cousteau Jean-Michel has spent his life with his family exploring the world's oceans aboard the research vessels Calypso and Alcyone, communicating to people of all nations and generations his love and concern for our water planet. The eldest son of the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel is President of Ocean Futures Society, where he continues his life's work of educating, especially the young people of the world, to foster a conservation ethic for our water planet.

Heather Hudson Crummer

Heather Hudson Crummer Heather Hudson, a supporter of HTO since our inception, is a long-time ocean lover and surfer (you’ll find her almost every morning at Rincon!), and she and her husband Keith Crummer are avid outdoors people. After receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from UCLA in 1984, she worked in advertising until she became a full-time mother in 1991. She is currently runs her film production company, Graciegirl LLC. Heather has served on HTO’s Advisory Board as well as every HTO Annual Gala Committee, and now she is overseeing the reinstatement of the great annual HTO party tradition.

Thomas Dabney
Treasurer

Thomas Dabney Thomas Dabney is a native Santa Barbarian and lobster fisherman with deep appreciation for the ocean and all it affords, and comes to Heal the Ocean with valuable directorial experience as a long time board member of his family foundations.

Francoise Park
Secretary

Francoise Park Francoise is an artist and author of cookbooks and children's books who worked many years in real estate in Santa Barbara and Malibu. She is devoted to community service in Santa Barbara -- in addition to serving on the Heal the Ocean board, she serves on the board of Girls, Inc. and Direct Relief International.

Sam Scranton

Sam Scranton Sam Scranton, who was for over 30 years the moving force behind the Santa Barbara Bowl (Manager 1978-1980; Founding Board Member (with Steve Cloud and Patrick Davis) of the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation (1980); General Manager (Feb 91-Feb 94); Executive Director Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation (Feb 94-Dec. 31, 2010). As the Foundation’s executive director raised $25 million for Bowl renovation and improvement. He has built and operated a number of music production companies (i.e. Full Circle Productions, and founded the shows that evolved into the Christmas Unity events and telethons. In 1990 Sam became artist manager for Christopher Cross, and as a musician himself, he has performed with Kenny Loggins, Jim Messina, Joe Walsh, Joe Cocker and others in New Years Eve parties he organized to raise funds for the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation. Sam has many ocean connections (including being on HTO’s advisory board for many years), but one outstanding feather in his cap is that he was, in the early 1970s, the personal assistant to Elisabeth Mann-Borgese, director of Planning Council, International Ocean Institute, Malta, and in this position, Sam did the preliminary editing of text and photographs for Elisabeth Mann-Borgese’s historic book, The Drama of the Oceans.

Honorary Board of Directors Advisory Committee
J'Amy Brown Jim DeArkland
Jack Canfield Jack Canfield
Julia Louis-Dreyfus Michael deGruy in memoriam
Brian Hodges John Robinson in memoriam
Jack Johnson Ruston Slager
Adam Rhodes