Local Nonprofits to Launch Program Identifying Sources of Pollution in Los Angeles River

LA Waterkeeper and Friends of the Los Angeles River to partner with community members to understand LA River health

LOS ANGELES, October 17, 2016— Today, water watchdog Los Angeles Waterkeeper, in partnership with long-time river advocate Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR), announced the launch of the River Assessment Fieldwork Team (RAFT), a joint water monitoring program, which engages community scientists to monitor water quality of the Los Angeles River. RAFT prepares volunteers with the training, supervision and equipment needed to collect scientifically accurate water quality samples and data from storm drains along two sections of the LA River in Glendale and Maywood, while empowering residents to contribute to the dialogue surrounding LA River restoration.

Most Los Angeles waterways are significantly polluted. This pollution poses serious health problems for residents and for wildlife. Monitoring efforts have found that the Los Angeles River is exceeding government water quality standards. Yet there is currently a lack of data concerning the sources of pollution. RAFT is building on other ongoing water quality studies, such as by the Council for Watershed Health and Heal the Bay, while taking a community-driven approach.

“At a time when there is a great amount of dialogue surrounding the future of the LA River, we need to make sure that we have a stronger understanding about the health of our waterways so that we can prioritize their ecological health in planning efforts,” says LA Waterkeeper Watershed Program Manager Melissa von Mayrhauser. “Combining data collection with coalition-building and community partnerships will be key to making this effort a success.”

RAFT combines the strong legacy of community engagement and historic advocacy work of Friends of Los Angeles River with the successful advocacy and policy experience of Los Angeles Waterkeeper.

“RAFT adds sorely-needed resolution to existing water-quality data for the LA River, and crucially provides a platform for existing communities to participate actively in the stewardship of its own waterways,” says Stephen Mejia-Carranza, FoLAR’s Community Programs Manager. “As we continue to define a more accessible and ecologically healthy Los Angeles River, it would be insincere not to have communities participate and help drive that effort.”

Decisions about the shared waterway have historically been dominated by city, county, and federal agencies who managed the River as little more than a flood control channel. Los Angeles Waterkeeper and FoLAR say RAFT gives the community a new voice in the future of the Los Angeles River and a stronger focus on the river’s ecological health.

RAFT’s first project is a six month pilot study investigating the levels and types of water pollution that pass through Los Angeles storm drains in the Maywood and Glendale sections of the LA River. These data will allow LA Waterkeeper and FoLAR to compare pollution loads in two ecologically distinct sections, both soft-bottom and concretized.

For more information on Los Angeles Waterkeeper and its efforts to protect the region’s waters, visit lawaterkeeper.org.

For more information on Friends of LA River, and their work on the Los Angeles River, visit folar.org.

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ABOUT LOS ANGELES WATERKEEPER

Founded in 1993, Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore Santa Monica Bay, San Pedro Bay and adjacent waters through enforcement, fieldwork, and community action.

ABOUT FRIENDS OF LOS ANGELES RIVER

Founded in 1986, Friends of the Los Angeles River’s (FoLAR) mission is to protect and restore the natural and historic heritage of the Los Angeles River and its riparian habitat through inclusive planning, education an

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