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Dr. Mark Gold: Moving Research to Policy in Environmental Health



  • Dr. Gold (D.Env '94) was the executive director of the environmental action group Heal the Bay for nearly 20 years, during which time he was a leading advocate for enhancing and maintaining the environmental quality of the Santa Monica Bay and Southern California’s coastal waters and watersheds.
  • Among Dr. Gold's current evidence-to-impact activities is a large research project with the city of Los Angeles aimed at maximizing integrated water management in the city through multi-benefit initiatives such as enhancing water recycling, and increasing stormwater capture, infiltration and reuse.



  • He has led the fight to win passage of new legislation and regulations to reduce the flow of polluted runoff into California’s coastal waters and beaches, contributed to the establishment of new state and national standards and regulations for water quality, and successfully fought to ensure that local, state, and federal agencies enforce and comply with existing environmental laws.
  • Dr. Gold has been instrumental in helping to develop and pass dozens of local ordinances and state laws, including AB 1548-- the Education and the Environment Initiative requiring comprehensive environmental education in California public schools-- and the California Beach Water Quality Act AB411, which set up the mechanism for beach water quality standards and mandatory monitoring and public notification.

Combining his scientific background with a problem-solving approach, Dr. Gold has had a major impact on environmental policy. His research on pathogens and pathogen indicators in urban runoff and the health risks to swimmers in runoff-contaminated waters led to California adopting the nation’s toughest beach water quality standards and creating and funding the over $100 million Clean Beach Initiative to help clean up the state’s most polluted beaches. Also, he created the Heal the Bay Beach Report Card which grades over 500 beaches on the west coast weekly based on fecal indicator bacteria densities in the water.

  • Thanks to the efforts of Heal the Bay, Santa Monica Bay water quality and marine ecology have improved dramatically.