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Cleaner Water, Better Sewers for Los Angeles

Cleaner Water, Better Sewers for Los AngelesThe City Project
helped win a clean water suit to clean up the sewer system in Los
Angeles. The $2 billion settlement calls for the City to replace
488 miles of sewer lines, clean 2,800 miles of sewers every year
and increase the system’s capacity. The City will also improve
a program to control dumping of pollutants like restaurant grease
that clogs our sewers and eventually ends up in the ocean. The
agreement mandates that the City spend $8.5 million on projects
like restoration of wetlands and creeks. The City Project represented
Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles and community and
homeowner groups in Leimert Park, the Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw,
and other South Los Angeles neighborhoods that have long suffered
from foul odors as a result of sewage spills and broken pipes.

Proposition O, a $500 million local bond for clean water and a
greener city, that will help restore the broken pipes and decrease
the amount of sewage spills and bad odors in the South Los Angeles
neighborhoods passed with 76% of the vote on the November 2, 2004,

Prop O will keep pollution out of the ocean and off our beaches,
improve water quality, and benefit every neighborhood in Los Angeles
by upgrading storm drains and sewers, eliminating flooding, and
creating community parks and green space.

Prop O promotes efforts to develop an Integrated Resources Plan
to manage the City’s wastewater, recycled water, and storm water
infrastructure in ways that will clean urban runoff and reuse that
water for green schools and parks.

Freshwater National Call to Action

National Call to Action to Head off Looming Freshwater Crisis
Charting New Waters: A Call to Action to Address U.S. Freshwater Challenges

Economy, public health, social justice, and ecosystems threatened without new direction in freshwater management by public and private sectors, diverse coalition cautions

WASHINGTON – The City Project joined a diverse coalition of businesses, farmers, environmental and social justice not-for-profits and government agencies today in issuing a landmark call to action aimed at heading off a national crisis in water quality and supply that could affect the nation’s economy, the livability of our communities for all, and the health of our ecosystems.

“Charting New Waters: A Call to Action to Address U.S. Freshwater Challenges,” is the culmination of an intensive two-year collaboration exploring solutions to U.S. freshwater challenges.  It was presented to the Obama Administration at a meeting of federal agencies convened by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), and released to the public during a noon forum at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

“There [is] broad consensus among participants that our current path will, unless changed, lead us to a national freshwater crisis in the foreseeable future,” the Call to Action reports. “This reality encompasses a wide array of challenges … that collectively amount to a tenuous trajectory for the future of the nation’s freshwater resources.”

According to Erica Flores Baltodano, a Staff Attorney with The City Project who joined in issuing the report in Washington:  “The City Project is committed to working with the coalition on environmental quality, environmental justice and fresh water across the nation. When we act, we need to:

  • Consider the impacts of freshwater solutions on all people and places, including minority and low-income urban and rural communities.
  • Seek robust multibenefit solutions and triple-bottom-line outcomes that address environmental, economic and social equity challenges.
  • Employ inclusive, fair and transparent public participation processes, including respectful consultation with Native Americans.
  • Develop a diverse high-quality workforce with local green jobs that pay livable wages, promote healthy neighborhoods, and put the nation back to work.
  • Work with the Obama Administration to ensure compliance with equal justice laws and principles through freshwater projects funded by taxpayers’ dollars.”

The document is believed to be the first such comprehensive, cross-sector examination of U.S. freshwater challenges and solutions. It represents consensus recommendations of diverse interests convened by The Johnson Foundation at the Fresh Water Summit at Wingspread in Racine, Wisconsin.

“For too long, our society has treated water as a cheap, non-strategic and infinitely available resource.  Not anymore. Threats to water quality and access are putting our businesses, communities and way of life in jeopardy. The time to act is now,” said S. Curtis Johnson, chairman of Diversey Inc., a leading global provider of cleaning and hygiene solutions to the institutional marketplace and co-signer of the Call to Action.

“Freshwater is our most precious resource and the lifeblood of our economy – industry, agriculture and energy generation all depend heavily on adequate supplies of freshwater. Water quality in our natural and municipal freshwater systems is vital to the health and livability of our communities,” said Helen Johnson-Leipold, chairman of The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread.  “The Foundation and its many partners in this collaboration offer the Call to Action as a means of bringing overdue attention to our nation’s freshwater challenges and sparking action to address them.”

In addition to signing onto the Call to Action, the parties in this groundbreaking initiative also made commitments to work together to take actions to address freshwater challenges.

“The City Project is committed to clean water and equal justice.   We are enforcing  the Clean Water Act with communities of color and low income communities in the Baldwin Hills and South Central Los Angeles, working together with  federal, state and local authorities.  We are working with grass roots groups and government leaders on multibenefit projects along the Los Angeles River, where public education programs address conservation, sustainable freshwater practices, and equal justice for all.  These are best practice examples for the nation, cited in the Call to Action,” according to Robert García, Executive Director and Counsel of The City Project, who co-signed the Call to Action and participated in the Fresh Water Summit. For additional information, please visit

Click here to download the Freshwater Call to Action . . .

Click here to download the Freshwater Commitment to Action . . .

For additional information about the Call to Action, or to learn more about The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread, please visit