Survey reveals contaminants in most wells

first_imgLos Angeles’ industrial, farming and development history has left traces of contamination in the groundwater throughout the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, according to a new statewide water survey now under way. Unveiling some of the survey’s first findings, state scientists said Wednesday that they detected very low levels of chemicals in almost all of the 35 groundwater wells they tested throughout the region. The results were no surprise to water regulators, who regularly test the aquifer and then filter, treat or dilute groundwater to ensure it’s safe for people to drink from the tap. But the state survey is unique because it measured contaminants at very low levels – smaller than 1part per billion, similar to a single drop in a swimming pool – and found a wide range of new and known contaminants showing up in groundwater. Sampling began in 2004, and scientists are looking for an array of chemical solvents, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and radioactive isotopes. Officials from the U.S. Geological Survey presented preliminary results for the L.A. groundwater basin to water-quality officials Wednesday. They sampled 12 groundwater wells, approximately one every 10square miles in the eastern San Fernando Valley, Eagle Rock and communities at the base of the Verdugo Mountains – where groundwater is pumped. Twenty-three wells were tested in the San Gabriel Valley. The samples were conducted on water straight from the ground. Water is typically filtered, treated or diluted before it’s delivered to customers. Scientists found volatile organic compounds in 33 of the 35 wells tested. The most commonly detected solvent was tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, a chemical once routinely used in dry cleaning and manufacturing; PCE was found in 83percent of wells tested. A handful of wells showed volatile organic compounds above pollution limits. But water from those wells is treated or diluted before being served. Researchers also found very low levels of pesticides in 31 of the 35 wells. Results on whether pharmaceuticals were detected in drinking-water wells are not available yet. “This is not water that people get out of the tap in Los Angeles. If any well becomes an issue, we take it offline and don’t use it,” L.A. Department of Water and Power spokesman Joe Ramallo said. DWP officials weren’t surprised by the range of contaminants found in the region’s groundwater. They have seen the same trend, and it’s an issue they have struggled with for years, Ramallo said. “There is no doubt that groundwater as a viable resource in Los Angeles is threatened. That’s why we’ve taken an aggressive stand against polluters.” The San Fernando Valley basin provides about 15percent of L.A.’s drinking water. Over the years, however, pollution has jeopardized that crucial supply. The DWP and neighboring cities have been trying to clean up a legacy of contamination started in the 1940s when heavy industry, defense contractors and aerospace businesses set up shop along the rail lines in Glendale, Burbank and the eastern San Fernando Valley and spilled chemicals on the ground that seeped into the aquifer below. The U.S. Geological Survey will publish a full report on the sampling results later this year. The group is beginning water-well testing in the Santa Clara River groundwater basin next month. kerry.cavanaugh@dailynews.com (213) 978-0390 Information Survey results are not available online yet, but more information on the Groundwater Ambient Monitoring Assessment program is available at www.waterboards.ca.gov/gama. “This data can be used to characterize water quality long before problems arise,” said Kenneth Belitz, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “It provides early awareness of constituents of concern.” Belitz said the survey is not an indicator of what people are actually drinking, but rather an assessment of the aquifer that supplies drinking water. The work is part of a 10-year, $50million study being conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and sponsored by the California State Water Resources Control Board. Legislators ordered the analysis with the Groundwater Quality Monitoring Act of 2001, which sought to understand what is in California’s drinking water and how to address emerging pollution problems. last_img read more

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first_imgGo back to the e-newsletter > Photo Credit: Damian BennettGo back to the e-newsletter >Qantas together with its Ambassador Hugh Jackman, has announced a new grants initiative with the Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF) that will empower young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be leaders in their communities.The initiative will be funded by a $1.4 million donation from the Qantas Foundation and help IMF graduates, known as Frontrunners, further their education or career, pursue a business enterprise or support a community development project.Founded by world champion marathon runner Robert De Castella, IMF selects a squad of 18-30 year old Indigenous men and women from around Australia to train for the New York Marathon with little or no running experience.  An IMF squad member graduates when they cross the finish line in New York.Qantas Ambassador Hugh Jackman said he was proud to represent Qantas as it deepened its relationship with IMF.“I’ve been so impressed by the inspirational work that Rob does and the brilliant young runners he’s mentoring through IMF,” said Mr Jackman.“I’m a passionate believer that if you give young people the opportunity and the tools to make a difference, there’s no limit to what they can achieve. That’s what IMF has been doing for the past five years and with the Qantas grant program we want to take it to the next level.“The finish line in New York is really just the starting point for these young leaders and I can’t wait to see what they do next.”Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said creating opportunities for young Indigenous people was fundamental to Qantas’ role as national carrier and at the heart of its Reconciliation Action Plan.“We’re hugely excited about the potential for this initiative,” said Mr Joyce.  “We know that the most powerful thing Australia can do for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is develop the skills, the ideas, the social programmes and above all the leadership that can make a concrete difference in Indigenous communities.“The Qantas-funded grant program will give IMF graduates a platform to build on their achievements and realise their potential as Australia’s next generation of Indigenous leaders.“IMF changes the lives of its graduates.  We want to enable those graduates to change lives in their communities.”Robert De Castella welcomed the Qantas investment.“When the runners cross the finish line of the biggest marathon in the world they know they can achieve anything. They become role models within their communities and are leaders in the promotion of health and physical exercise to help alleviate the high instance of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease,” said Mr De Castella.“Qantas is making strategic decisions that will have a very real and direct impact both for individuals in the short term and for entire communities in the longer term.“The Qantas Grants will help kick start our graduates’ journey to step up and lead change in their community be it through creating a small business or developing sports programs like previous graduates,” said Mr De Castella.In July 2015, Qantas’ Reconciliation Action Plan – first launched in 2007 – was awarded Elevate status, the highest level of endorsement by Reconciliation Australia.Since 2010, there have been 43 graduates of IMF, all of whom have contributed in some way to creating change in their lives and those of their families and communities. By 2018, there will be over 80 graduates.The 2015 Indigenous Marathon Foundation squad of ten young Indigenous Australians will fly to New York tomorrow to run in this year’s marathon.last_img read more

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