One Man's Fight to Clean Up One of the World's Most Polluted Bays
Publication Year: 2010
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.
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Table of Contents
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In some ways, this book is an oral history, a collage of people’s memories assembled into a story. Naturally, the book wouldn’t interview requests. In fact, several agreed to subsequent inter-could be as accurate as possible in retelling their stories. And so: all those who took the time to sit down with me, I truly appreci-...
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It’s a truism in journalism that most people want to tell their stories. All you have to do is ask and they will gladly pour out this book are hardly ancient history, they’re old enough for the people involved to be a little shaky on the facts and, in par tic u-lar, the chronology. It’s gotten to the point where certain offi -...
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...twenty- year- old boat he had taken to this point seven miles off-shore, barely rocked on the early summer seas, and it seemed as 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 ...
1. The Swimmer
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Howard Bennett swam every day in nothing but an old, stretched- the frigid, fi fty- six- degree Pacifi c Ocean at six o’clock in the morning. Given his habit of self- deprecation, he might have ad-water. He needed to be enveloped in that chilling water for the twenty- minute- or- so swim just beyond the surf line. He couldn’t ...
2. The Witness
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...the triple- eyed peeper to the freak show of fi sh he had pulled California were disastrously polluted. In the jar of horrors that he took to various government hearings on the bay during the early 1980s, he showed off fi sh with other, more common affl ictions too— cancerous black tumors, deformed spines, and fi n rot— all ...
3. The Coalition
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...his tales don’t always portray him in the best light. Ask him if he old man’s warning and he’ll tell you a seemingly unrelated tale of how, after a rainstorm, he and a lifeguard friend swam north strongly there that it was like heading into an aquatic treadmill. didn’t realize at the time that all the city’s storm drains that ...
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Let’s say hello to propaganda for a moment. For the sake of sim-plicity and instant persuasion, some enviros at the time initially cally created in almost everyone’s mind the not- so- pleasant pic-In fact, Bennett developed a favorite line for this image, telling reporters, “When I swam, often I tasted things in the water. I ...
5. The Press Conference
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...just like him wanted. While he’d never cozy up in a lounge chair spond to. He had a special talent, he said, for the kind of public-idea that they took their kids to a polluted ocean, was through ple: a little sensationalism is a sweet thing. Give them a crisp, hold an audience’s attention far longer than the city council can ...
6. City Hall
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In an open letter sent out to co ali tion members and other inter-According to those who worked for Bradley, it wasn’t that he running a huge city, and he had staffers to handle such matters. the 301(h) waiver the kind of esoteric administrative detail that puts it now, “I think it’s fair to say that the mayor paid attention ...
7. The Activist
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As a storyteller, Howard Bennett isn’t one for analyzing pivotal moments in a narrative— those plot points where, if a certain starts losing steam. If a certain event in the story has a meaning, he chooses not to think about it. The story itself is enough for That’s one reason why— when talking about the co ali tion’s ...
8. The Second Hearing
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Considering what Rim Fay had said about the fi rst 301(h) waiver the waiver’s inevitable approval— getting a second hearing be-nascent co ali tion, “We want one more hearing— just one more chance,” the EPA, Region 9, sent Bennett a letter dated April 9 breath to read out loud: “As per your request, a second hearing ...
9. The Scientist
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...the statement itself was fairly brief, Brown fi gured this should have ignited the city— should have infl amed environmentalists and the thus- far laissez faire politicians alike. He couldn’t imag-about any other news for the day, felt perplexed at the snub but, wasn’t considered all that appalling. This is not to say the press ...
10. The Politician
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Bennett talked about Bascom, his voice got louder and the words had personally defi led the beach outside Bennett’s house. Oc-casionally, he’d even feign spitting, which was as simple and sought what he saw as the perfect solution: he wanted, as he put it, to “prosecute this Bascom and make him swing in the wind as an ...
11. The Brown Ribbon
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It should have been just a lousy phone bill. One of those normal this— this was a vacuum hose inserting itself into Howard Ben-nett’s checking account and sucking out the dollars. Pages and pages listed long- distance calls that he had sprayed like buck-D.C. Government offi cials, legislators, environmentalists, and ...
12. Heal the Bay
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Bente Bennett felt as though she had lost her husband. He rarely life had centered on sewage. Sewage! Yes, she was angry that the It wasn’t just their relationship. It was the constant intrusive phone calls. Howie had scattered calls seemingly across the coun-try like a telemarketer, and now people were calling him back. ...
13. The Dirty Toilet Awards
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...thought of Green as her “second mother.” In some cases, this That’s why Howard Bennett’s plan to fl ush their names down a Bennett had the right to do this except for one thing: he still negative reaction. If the Bradley administration perceived Heal the Bay as being behind the Dirty Toilet Awards, it might never ...
14. The Decision
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...than $161,000, engineers built a hundred- foot- long, six- foot- wide eight- foot- by- ten- foot concrete box. At the time, this must have seemed like a simple solution to one of the city’s oldest problems: usually during heavy rainfall. Incredibly, there were times in the early twentieth century when raw sewage burst from sewage lines ...
15. Friend of the Court
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...her obsession, the focus of her goals. It was entirely possible that even the Hyperion engineers weren’t as enthusiastic about the subject of treating what people fl ushed down the city’s pipes Sewage was— and is, of course— the most basic of a society’s sewage in one day— 420 million gallons in 1985— to create the ...
16. Outsiders and Insiders
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...future has already been decided, and you can’t do a thing about than a year, he asked him, “Would it be in my best interest to ferently, with perhaps a small, sincere quiver in the voice, but structions came naturally to him. Plus, he had a feeling his ter-Los Angeles’ chances for the 301(h) waiver and sent the respected ...
17. The 50 Percent Job
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...gelatinous blob of lifeless dirt. Looking at it, one can’t help but wonder if the infamous “dead zone” so debated in 1985 still exists. Nevertheless, two marine biologists for the City of Los ping pile as though they’re about to open a Christmas present. The two, with a combined fi fty- three years’ experience, dump ...
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...2008, for a few follow- up interview questions and for her to pose for a portrait for this book. Even though she felt exhausted after a trip to San Francisco to promote a book she had written about ing a little irritation over any discussion of Howard Bennett) and few days later, I sent her three pictures she had requested, and ...
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Dorsey, John, et al. Santa Monica Bay Monitoring Study. Hyperion U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “National Estuary Program.” Citron, Alan. “Report Confi rms Toxic Dumping; Hayden Decries Ferrell, David. “The 10- Year Battle of Santa Monica Bay.” Los Angeles “Beach Areas Still under Quarantine.” Los Angeles Times, June 3, 1951....
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Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2010