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Thursday, May 27, 2010

5,000 Los Angeles Kids Cleanup Dockweiler State Beach, Form Human Mosaic Calling to "Sustain Life"

PLAYA DEL REY, CA—Confirming their commitment to protecting marine life, 5,000 area students and their teachers participated at the Adopt-A-Beach Cleanup and formed an aerial artwork in celebration of Kids Ocean Day. The event was hosted by the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education, the California Coastal Commission, the City of Los Angeles, Keep Los Angeles Beautiful, and Whole Foods Market.

The day’s activities began with a program kick-off involving dignitaries, including: Michael Klubock of the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education; Sara Wan of the California Coastal Commission; Cynthia M. Ruiz of the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works and Keep Los Angeles Beautiful; City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation Director Enrique Zaldivar; Whole Foods Market marketing supervisor Lena Pereira; and actress and environmentalist Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me!, Fraiser, Baywatch). Students picked up trash at the beach, and capped the day by forming a human mosaic that depicted the ocean and spelled “Sustain Life.” The message highlighted the connection between the health of oceans and human life, and also reflected the United Nations’ Millenium Development Goal to ensure environmental sustainability.

"The vitality of Los Angeles and the rest of our planet depends on the health of the ocean for the oxygen we breathe, the food that we eat, and a livable climate," said Cynthia M. Ruiz, president of the Board of Public Works and chairman of Keep Los Angeles Beautiful. "Los Angeles kids understand the environmental and moral responsibility of caring for the ocean to which we are all connected, no matter how far inland we are. Let us follow their example and be active stewards of the ocean and the environment by starting in our own neighborhoods."

Kids Ocean Day is celebrated at six other locations along the California coast, extending from Humboldt County to San Diego. The event honors World Ocean Day that will be celebrated globally on June 8.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LA’s Efforts to Transform Water Quality at Three Heal the Bay F-Grade Beaches

Today the local environmental group Heal the Bay issued its annual beach report card in time for the start of the summer beach season, providing beach goers with important water quality information. Without fail, over the last few years, Santa Ynez Beach, Castle Rock Beach and Inner Cabrillo Beach have received poor grades when it comes to their water quality.

That is about to change.

Working with regional partners including the County of Los Angeles, the Cities of El Segundo and Santa Monica and environmental groups such as Heal the Bay, the City of Los Angeles has built various structural best management practices at each of these locations to significantly improve their water quality.

There are currently 23 low-flow diversions, or structures that divert dry-weather polluted urban runoff from storm drains to the sanitary sewer system, dotting the Santa Monica Bay coastline. Using funds from Proposition O, the water quality bond measure passed in 2004, Los Angeles is in the process of upgrading eight of these diversions to handle dry weather flow year round. The upgrade of these low-flow diversions has the added benefit of ensuring the City’s compliance with federal water quality mandates related to dry weather flow. Other locations along Santa Monica Bay, most notably, Castlerock and Santa Ynez Canyon, whose low-flow diversions are owned and operated by the County of Los Angeles, have experienced recent maintenance issues. The City has been working closely with the County to resolve those challenges.

Inner Cabrillo Beach has been a bigger challenge and while the City hasn’t achieved full compliance with water quality mandates for this location yet, it is dedicated to reaching that goal. The City of Los Angeles has spent $20 million over the last seven years in projects ranging from public outreach to repairing sewer lines to the replacement of sand to improve water quality at this popular beach. Currently, the Los Angeles Harbor Department is preparing to construct a bird exclusion structure that will be completed for the 2010 summer season. Ongoing monitoring efforts are planned to determine the success of this latest water quality improvement project.

“We recognize that these three beaches have been problematic in years past but we are committed to working with our community partners to find solutions that will improve the quality of water in our rivers, lakes and beaches,” stated Enrique Zaldivar, Director of the Bureau of Sanitation. “Clean water in Los Angeles is a team effort,” continued Zaldivar.

For more information about the City’s Watershed Protection Program, please visit LAStormwater.org and join us at facebook.com/lastormwaterprogram.

Friday, May 21, 2010

When Less Is More - In the Garden

Hey gardeners and home owners out there, did you know that you could reduce the amount of toxins in our waters by following a few easy rules?

It’s true and if you have a lawn or garden and occasionally use pesticides or herbicides to green it up, we have a little recommendation that could go a long way in helping keep our waterways clean .

First, always read directions on any product you plan to use on your lawn or garden, and only apply the amount of pesticide specified on the label. Second, always spot apply these substances on areas that you believe need them the most, and be sure pesticides are properly applied to the area the pest is most prevalent.

The less you use, the less that will make its way into the storm drain system and to our ocean. So when it comes to using pesticides, always remember that less is more.

Check back soon for another green gardening tip where we will discuss how to maintain your garden without using pesticides at all!

*Image courtesy of IPM Thailand

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Friends of the Ballona Wetlands Honor Cynthia M. Ruiz, Los Angeles Public Works President

On April 29, 2010 at an evening awards ceremony held on the 51st floor of City National Plaza, the Friends of the Ballona Wetlands recognized Los Angeles Board of Public Works Commissioner Cynthia M. Ruiz as a “Watershed Warrior” for her ongoing efforts to protect Ballona Wetlands. Commissioner Ruiz and Terry O’Day of Santa Monica City Council were presented with the first-ever “Passionate Pickleweed Award” for their work on urban and coastal water quality.

During her acceptance speech, Ruiz noted that she is a life-long environmentalist who believes nature holds intrinsic value. "The vitality of Los Angeles depends upon the oceans' health for the oxygen we breathe, the food that we eat, and a livable climate," said Ruiz. “It is an honor to be recognized, but the true change begins from the ground up, where youth, educators, residents, businesses and City officials are all working together for the vision of a cleaner, greener LA.”

Cynthia Ruiz has been the president of the Board of Public Works since 2005, and throughout her tenure has encouraged Los Angeles residents to adopt better pollution prevention practices. Ruiz is also a strong supporter of Kids Ocean Day held annually at Dockweiler Beach, and has led the way for Los Angeles to become an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. Ruiz also pioneered the Los Angeles Environmental Youth Conference, now on its third year. The event has drawn an average of 5,000 students in previous years.

Friends of the Ballona Wetlands is a 32-year-old nonprofit organization that strives for the restoration and protection of Ballona Creek’s dwindling wetlands. It works to involve and educate the public as advocates and stewards of this precious resource.

*Photo courtesy of chritamaephoto.com.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Monthly Events: This MAY Be the Time to Volunteer for a Greener LA

Spring is officially in full swing and May is the month you should consider volunteering to green our great city and improve water quality conditions. For more info on the following events, including time and location, please visit the embedded links or check out our calendar.

>Every Thursday during the month of May TreePeople will be hosting a Park Work Day in Beverly Hills, so if the weekend is too busy, you may want to devote a lovely Thursday afternoon to help out the community. All outings are from 10am to 12pm.

>On Saturday May 8th you can join in the Great LA River Clean-up, where volunteers with Friends of the Los Angeles River pick up litter and help to revive out city’s main artery to the ocean. After your day in the sun L.A. Eco-Village will host a cool documentary on a kayak trip down the LA River.

>TreePeople is back at it on Sunday, May 9th in Calabasas. Volunteers will help the group plant oak trees and native bunch grasses to restore habitat along Las Virgenes and Malibu Creeks.

>If the beginning of the month is already booked, why not consider heading out to Topanga Canyon on Saturday the 15th to help TreePeople restore the watershed by planting native trees.

>Saturday May 22nd and Sunday May 23rd are also set to be a fun-filled days. Join Music 4 Relief, TreePeople's Ryan Allen, and the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks at a local park for some much-needed reforestation. It’s all part of Million Trees LA. So help plant a few trees and be a part of history.

>Lastly, on May 29th, head out to Sylmar to water newly planted trees with TreePeople. Last October over 50 trees were planted and they are in need of some care so that they survive the upcoming dry months.

*Photo courtesy of thedailygreen.com.