Dirty Water: One Man's Fight to Clean Up One of the World's Most Polluted Bays

Dirty Water: One Man's Fight to Clean Up One of the World's Most Polluted Bays

Dirty Water: One Man's Fight to Clean Up One of the World's Most Polluted Bays

Dirty Water: One Man's Fight to Clean Up One of the World's Most Polluted Bays

Synopsis

Dirty Water is the riveting story of how Howard Bennett, a Los Angeles schoolteacher with a gift for outrageous rhetoric, fought pollution in Santa Monica Bay--and won. The story begins in 1985, when many scientists considered the bay to be one of the most polluted bodies of water in the world. The insecticide DDT covered portions of the sea floor. Los Angeles discharged partially treated sewage into its waters. Lifeguards came down with mysterious illnesses. And Howard Bennett happily swam in it every morning.

By accident, Bennett learned that Los Angeles had applied for a waiver from the Clean Water Act to continue discharging sewage into the bay. Incensed that he had been swimming in dirty water, Bennett organized oddball coalition to orchestrate stunts such as wrapping brown ribbon around LA's city hall and issuing Dirty Toilet Awards to chastise the city's administration. This is the fast-paced story of how this unusual cast of characters created an environmental movement in Los Angeles that continues to this day with the nationally recognized Heal the Bay. Character-driven, compelling, and uplifting, Dirty Water tells how even the most polluted water can be cleaned up-by ordinary people.

Excerpt

Dr. John Dorsey liked to call it black mayonnaise. That pretty much described the thick mat of sewage sludge that lay on the seafloor some 320 feet below him as he hauled up a sediment sample from the area called Site 8A. the Marine Surveyor, the twenty-year-old boat he had taken to this point seven miles offshore, barely rocked on the early summer seas, and it seemed as though the Pacific Ocean that surrounded him was pure, clean, and untouched.

It wasn’t really. Some people called that sludge below him a dead zone, an underwater desert, which wasn’t actually lifeless but was devoid of most of the diverse marine life that once had lived there. Only a few species remained. Near here was the outfall of a seven-mile pipe from Los Angeles’ Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant that disgorged the city’s sewage solids, called sludge, after they had been separated from the rest of the wastewater in large tanks. in 1984, an average 4.8 million gallons per day were pumped through this pipe—which had first started . . .

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