Friday, October 28, 2005

Denial Isn't Just A River in Egypt - It Is Also A River In Los Angeles!,0,3509021.story?coll=la-home-headlines

At last Saturday's LA River Workshop, I had a long talk with the Terra Tech project head - whose name I, of course, do not recall, about the need to inject a little reality into the discussion. I was particularly concerned about the failure to address either the financial realities of funding the project and the lack of real world understanding of the immense problems in dealing with the health problems of the water in the river.

Granted this is at the very beginning of the process, but, still, it would have been helpful when everyone was expressing their utopian dreams, that the constraints the project faces hasd been more clearly laid out.

Below is the LA Times on the urban run-off we find in the LA River:

L.A. County Beaches Were State's Most Unhealthful This Summer

Despite cleanup efforts, bacterial counts were the highest in five years. Experts are baffled.

Kenneth R. Weiss Times Staff Writer October 27, 2005

Los Angeles County coastal waters this summer contained the highest levels of harmful bacteria measured during the last five years, accumulating more failing grades for human health standards than any other swimming beaches in California...

....None of this came as a surprise to surfers such as Cory Bleumling, a Cal State Northridge graduate student who recently experienced head congestion, chills and diarrhea after one surfing session.

"It's always a little nasty out here, a bit of funk," Bleumling said Wednesday, emerging from the surf at Malibu, a longboard tucked under his arm. Every time he paddles out, he said, there's some health risk. "It's like going to Mexico. You might get sick, or you might not."

The failing grades, compiled by nonprofit environmental group Heal the Bay, were recorded as Los Angeles County and its cities face a state deadline of July 31 to make waters healthful for swimming every day during the summer - or face hefty fines. The unhealthful conditions are blamed on multiple sources, including sewer spills, pet waste, fertilizer, oil and other pollution washing off lawns and pavement and ultimately into the sea....

... Relying mostly on state grants, local governments have already spent millions of dollars installing devices that divert and treat "urban slobber," the steady trickle of bacteria-laden water that runs down storm drains and creeks from urban centers.... Government officials and environmental activists have found this summer's high bacterial levels perplexing.

"It was, by far, the most polluted year we have ever seen in the past five years," said Gold, who helps analyze bacterial levels and grading of beaches from A to F.Gold said he initially blamed the failing grades on record rainfall. Raging storm water routinely overwhelms or breaks sewer lines, releasing raw sewage into the ocean.Storm-water runoff also augments the flow of urban pollutants into the ocean.

But other Southern California counties, from Santa Barbara to San Diego, also experienced record rainfall and still showed improvement this summer in keeping bacterial levels below federal and state health standards, Gold said. Furthermore, he said, the beaches with the highest bacterial counts were spiking off and on all summer, not just during the first months after the heavy winter rains...

And... finally...

Health officials recommend avoiding ocean waters within 100 yards of a flowing storm drain or stream.

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