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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Echo Park Lake Clean Up Hits the Airwaves

The City’s effort to clean up Echo Park Lake was covered by a local National Public Radio affiliate earlier this month. The City of Los Angeles is in the planning stages of rehabilitating the lake to address the trash and pollutants that have impaired this
water body. The lake, well-loved by the community, was last drained
and cleaned shortly before the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Currently stormwater drains directly into the lake, which eventually leads to the Los Angeles River. So a cleaner lake means a cleaner river, and ultimately a cleaner ocean. Public comments on how the City should best utilize Prop O funds to remediate the lake is fast approaching, so check out how you can chime in.

To listen to the segment online, please visit Southern California Public Radio’s home on the web. Also check out the great video clip below that depicts the historic Echo Park Lake throughout the years.

*Photo courtesy of LapPhoto1

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

State & County Move to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags

Plastic bags do not biodegrade. That means if they are littered they can wash into the storm drain system and end up being dumped into our ocean waters.

There, plastic bags can become a problem for aquatic life for decades on end. Turtles and other creatures often mistake plastic bags for food, and birds and fish can get wrapped up in the bags causing death and severe injury.

In order to address the problem, Santa Monica State Assemblywoman Julia Brownley has proposed a bill (AB 1998) that would ban single-use bags at check-out stands at most stores in the state, including grocery, drug and other types of convenience stores.

On June 28, 2010 the California State Senate Environment Committee supported Sen. Brownley’s legislation, which makes the bill one step closer to becoming law, which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says he supports.

“I commend the Assembly for passing AB 1998, which would make California the first state in the nation to ban plastic bags,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “This bill will be a great victory for our environment and I applaud Assemblywoman Brownley for working on this effort.”

More recently, in late July, Los Angeles County Supervisors also put forth their own proposal to ban single use plastic bags in LA County.

As such, plastic bags in our region may soon be checking-out for good.

How do you feel about banning single use plastic bags?

UPCOMING: This Sunday, August 22nd head on out to “Bag It! A Film Festival” at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater. Screenings will begin at 4pm and run until 7pm. You can RSVP by clicking here. And if you go, be sure to let us know what you thought of the film festival.

UPDATE: The Plastic Bag Ban bill (AB 1998) failed passage on August 31, 2010, stalling in the California State Senate with a 14-21 vote.

*Photo courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Los Angeles Stormwater E-Media Program Garners NACWA Award

The City of Los Angeles’ Stormwater Program is proud to be the recipient of a National Environmental Achievement Agency (NEAA) Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), for outstanding achievement in the Stormwater E-Media Program. The prestigious NEAA Award recognizes Los Angeles’ E-Media Program for its innovation in educating and engaging residents and stakeholders through a multi-pronged approach that includes web sites, a Facebook page, an e-newsletter and blog.

Los Angeles’ Bureau of Sanitation’s Assistant Director Adel Hagekhalil was present at the July 20, 2010 evening award ceremony held in San Francisco, CA to receive the award. Recently, LA Stormwater sat down with Adel to ask him a few questions about the award, its significance to the City and future plans.

LA Stormwater: What do you see as the significance of LA Stormwater receiving this award?

Adel: NACWA’s Public Information & Education Awards honor agencies for inventive efforts to inform and involve their communities. Receiving this prestigious national award confirms that we at the Bureau of Sanitation are national leaders in our environmental programs providing first class service deserved by a first class city. We share this national award with our many clean water partners across the Country.

Since stormwater pollution is mainly incidental to poor human behavior, public outreach and education continue to be important tools in mitigating stormwater pollution. The NACWA award signifies and recognizes the City's effort on this matter, and the leadership role that the City is playing in this worthwhile endeavor.

LA Stormwater: Do you have experience with social media? How do you see it helping the City's efforts?

Yes, I use Facebook, Twitter, e-groups, etc. as part of my personal life and at work. Social media is today's way of communicating with a vast majority of the City population. Consequently, we at the Bureau are taking advantage of this communication tool to reach our targeted audiences. We believe that more City residents are relying on the internet to get their information. Most of our audiences are members of the younger generation who rely on social media and electronic communication tools. Furthermore, it is a very cost effective method in today's world where so much emphasis is placed on cost-conscious policies.

LA Stormwater: What other award winning projects caught your eye at the NACWA ceremony?

Adel: All of the awards were very innovative and creative, but two of the projects that caught my eye were:

- The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District's Greenseams Video that uses real-life examples of green infrastructure to educate the public on cost-effective ways in which the utility is addressing the complex issues of water pollution, stormwater run-off, and flooding. This compelling educational tool uses vibrant photography and easy to understand storytelling to illustrate the natural, environmentally beneficial solutions that the Greenseams Program offers.

- The Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County's creative campaign entitled Wrongville/Rightville. This informative community outreach program utilized newspaper advertisements and posters to educate school children and the general public about the watersheds of Los Angeles County, and what they can do to keep them clean.

LA Stormwater: What does the future hold for the Los Angeles Stormwater's E-Media Program?

Adel: We are planning a complete redesign of our http://www.lastormwater.org/ web site in 2011. This web site was on the cutting edge of e-media when it was first developed 12 years ago in 1998. We are excited to utilize new technology to freshen up the site and create a resource that will continue to educate and inform the three million people that visit the site annually.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monthly Events: End Summer in Style by Volunteering for Cleaner Water

Summer is coming to an end. Well almost, and if you haven’t had a chance to volunteer to improve our water quality by planting a tree or picking up trash, you still have plenty of time! This month is chock full of fun events and opportunities, so here’s a peek!

>On Tuesday, August 2nd head on over to Echo Park Library for a presentation on the lake’s rehab, hosted by the City of LA.

>If Tuesday is too busy, but Echo Park is a place you want to venture, check out an event hosted by the Echo Park Trash Abatement Project on Saturday, August 7th to pick up trash before it enters the storm drain.

>TreePeople is holding an event on August 11th and 12th at Pasadena’s Eaton Canyon Nature Center for a two-day environmental service learning workshop.

>The City of LA is having a volunteer event out in Wilmington on August 21st, which will be a morning full of satisfying work. On that same Saturday Heal the Bay will be hitting the sands of Pacific Palisades for a sure-to-be-fun beach clean-up.

>Your last chance to volunteer this month comes on August 28th as Friends of Ballona Creek will be in Playa del Rey for a wetlands restoration day. Volunteers are always welcome, so mark your calendars and make a commitment to do your part to better our environment.

>Check out all of August’s events that aid cleaner water by visiting our calendar at http://www.calendarwiz.com/lateameffort

And if you have any upcoming events, please send them on over to us, and we will be happy to include them in our community calendar.