Long Beach Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal Featured at World Bank Forum

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Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal

On Wednesday, February 22, 2012, Long Beach Vice Mayor and Second District representative Suja Lowenthal participated in a virtual workshop and expert panel in Washington D.C. on best practices of local governments and watershed authorities to implement litter management strategies hosted by The World Bank Latin America & Caribbean Region. World Bank representatives were impressed by Lowenthal’s presentation at TEDx Great Pacific Garbage Patch seminar in 2010, where she discussed Long Beach’s strategies for cleaning up marine debris and non-point source pollution from the Los Angeles River as well as its own storm drain system. According to representatives, Long Beach provides an “interesting example that is not too different from situations found in Latin America (i.e. a beach community at the end of a urbanized river).” Several cities in Latin America implementing drainage projects under World Bank funding participated in the virtual workshop. Heal the Bay partnered with Lowenthal and City staff to collect data and summarize Long Beach’s efforts in a case study format. A copy of the case study report will soon be available at www.longbeach.gov/district2/.

Lowenthal has been a tireless advocate for improving water quality along the city’s namesake beaches and marinas, hosting regional forums with other electeds and agencies located along the Los Angeles River, authoring legislation and pushing for storm drain treatments that catch marine debris and non-point source pollution before it reaches Long Beach’s natural marine habitat. “I am proud of our work over the last 5 years around this issue,” said Lowenthal. “Our focus on solutions and partnerships with environmental groups such as Heal the Bay have made a significant difference…so we’ve got a compelling story to tell entities such as the World Bank and TEDx.”

Those efforts are borne out by the 2011 End of Summer Beach Report Card from Heal the Bay, which stated, “This summer marks a dramatic improvement in Long Beach’s beach grades, with 100% of beaches receiving A and B grades. This is an impressive 27% improvement over last year (73% A and B grades), as well as the third summer in a row Long Beach has shown improved water quality. In general, beach water quality at the main beaches in Long Beach tends to be impacted by the Los Angeles River. This is supported by an extensive source tracking study, which showed the vast majority of bacterial contamination at Long Beach beaches was a result of pollution from the Los Angeles River. The City of Long Beach has remained dedicated to improving beach water quality through the implementation of several mitigation projects, including at Colorado Lagoon, which is listed on the State of California’s 303(d) list as an impaired water body.” “The City of Long Beach has taken a proactive approach in many areas of litter management, and the World Bank forum proved to be a great opportunity to share the successes and lessons learned from these efforts with the international community,” said Kirsten James with Heal the Bay.

To view Lowenthal’s presentation at TEDx, go to www.YouTube.com.

The World Bank Latin America & Caribbean Region has not posted a link for the workshop and panel, but may be visited at www.worldbank.org, then click “Countries” in the top menu before selecting the region.

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