Heal the World
page 1 |
| 3 |
its inaugural edition, the IoE analyzes progress -- and regress
-- in the region's response to four particular issues: air pollution,
wastewater treatment, water usage and wetlands conservation. The
marks are mixed, indicating that while the IoE is eager to work
with environmental policy-makers, it is also not about to pull punches
in its assessments.
air quality, for example. Southern California gets an "A"
for its progress to date in meeting federal emission standards for
nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and lead and for the dramatic strides
it has taken to reduce peaked ozone levels over the past 40 years
(an achievement all the more remarkable given the growth in population
and automobile use during the same period). But the region's lack
of new policies to match the aggressive strategies laid out in earlier
times results in a "C" for current efforts. "The
point is that this could turn around if we're not careful,"
says Arthur Winer '64, an atmospheric chemist and faculty member
in UCLA's Environmental Science and Engineering program.
is a similar split in the area of wastewater treatment. Again, Southern
California gets top grades for the area's inland water reclamation
plants, but a "C" for the coastal plants, based in part
on more than 20 years of delay in construction of secondary treatment
facilities as the City of Los Angeles and L.A. County Sanitation
Districts sought legal waivers from the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA). (The waivers were ultimately not granted, and the
facilities are set to be completed within the next couple of years.)
"Our worst grade is for allowing the deterioration of the Hyperion
treatment plant in the early '80s, where we fail," the report
the agencies that supply water to the Los Angeles area receive a
respectable "B" for their increasing investment in strategies
to manage demand, water users themselves get a "C" for
their insufficient conversion to water-efficient technology and
little evidence of enduring changes in water-use behavior. And in
wetlands conservation, the IoE confers its lowest marks: a "C"
for recent efforts to protect and restore wetlands, but a barely
passing "D" overall. Given the "dismal" current
state of wetlands in Southern California, estimates indicate that
only about 10 percent of the original wetland area remains, and
most of that has been severely degraded, the report says.
stated purpose of the Report Card is to promote a dialogue
with environmental decision-makers on important issues -- and to
be sure, some of the agencies singled out in the first report are
talking, even if it's to disagree. Barry Wallerstein D.Env.'88,
executive officer at the South Coast Air Quality Management District
(SCAQMD), while welcoming specific policy input from the IoE, is
disappointed that the report expresses doubt about the agency's
current policy direction. "All of the easy solutions have already
been implemented in Southern California -- any other region that
has an air-quality problem only needs to look to what we have done
and implement a small portion of that," Wallerstein asserts.
"Regarding the future, we need to continue to press for technological
advancement and commercialization of low-