ELAC to tackle water scarcity

By Steven Adamo

The theme for Friday’s Global Awareness in the 21st Century conference will focus on the issue of water scarcity. 

The event will feature a keynote speaker and multiple workshops in a wide-range of subjects as well as free breakfast and lunch. 

The keynote speaker for the event is George McGraw, founder of the Los Angeles-based non-profit DigDeep. 

McGraw, who served as a consultant for the United Nations Development Program, first took an interest in water poverty in Afghanistan. 

Infant and women mortality rates rose when half of their community water sanitation projects were failing. 

He has given TEDx talks on the subject and is currently working with the Navajo Nation in the United States. 

The volunteer-organizers want to bring awareness of local and global environmental issues, as well as inspiring students to get involved in the solutions to these big problems.

Water scarcity highlight of Global Awareness Conference

According to M. Allen Coson, Vice Chair of Economics at ELAC and one of the event’s organizers, clean up efforts can be organized at a variety of local destinations. 

These include Whittier Narrows, the San Gabriel River or getting involved with organizations like the Friends of the LA River. “We want students to be more active,” Coson said. 

One way in which students and the community can get involved is through the SoCal Water $mart program which encourages residents to replace their lawns with plants and other landscapes that use less water. 

Norma Vega, Spanish Professor in the Modern Languages Department, said that in San Pedro, roughly 20 grants were given to residents to install a rain garden. 

“It is so that the water does not have to go through the streets and pick up all the oil and take it to the ocean. Because a rain garden is an indentation in the ground on the Earth, the water goes all the way down to the water table instead,” Vega said. 

Applications for the SoCal Water $mart program will be available during the breakfast, but they can also be downloaded at, https://socalwatersmart.com/en/residential/. 

“It’s just these little policies in this throwaway society we live in… let’s bring back that collective memory, to see how these immigrant generations, what they can teach us,” Vega said. 

“They can teach us a lot…  collaboration is going to be needed, the solutions are going to have to be local,” Vega said.

Though there are workshops that focus on some local issues like the California Aqueduct and flooding in Baldwin Hills, a lot of workshops will have a global focus including water access in Indonesia and scarcity of freshwater in South America, Africa and Asia. 

Professor Irwin Jimenez will also be giving a talk entitled “Water Injustice: Economic and Racial Disparities in the U.S.” 

Other talks include a new database in the ELAC library for researching green issues like water pollution, privatization, the Safe Drinking Water Act and more. 

Panels during the conference will also include the effects of micro-plastic in our oceans, which drinking water is best for you and others. 

The conference was organized by the East Los Angeles College Modern Languages Department and the Economics Student Association. 

Registration and breakfast, provided by ELAC MESA, will begin at 8:30 a.m. in F5-201. 

The workshops will be in the classrooms on the third floor of the E3 building. ASU will provide boxed lunches at 12:15 p.m. while supplies last. 

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