Global Awareness conference speaks on worldwide water issues

Communities denied proper water access 

By Juan Calvillo

Economic and racial factors in the United States create clean water disparities that can affect entire communities. Irwin Jimenez, assistant professor of sociology at East Los Angeles College, said that multiple factors feed into this situation and that there are also some ways to combat the issue.

Jimenez said that in 2017, the United States posted results in a report that gave the drinking water in the US a “D” letter grade. According to the website, “The quality of drinking water in the United States remains high, but legacy and emerging contaminants continue to require close attention.”

Jimenez said that 82 percent of states have found some type of contaminants in their water. With the continued deregulation done by the current Environmental Protection Agency, septic tanks are also beginning to be affected.

Jimenez said that communities of low income and people of color disproportionately are affected by contamination. He used the example of Flint, Michigan and the Navajo reservations to show how communities can be affected by water impurities. Jimenez said that this situation is hitting home at ELAC. 

He said that the brand new building that will become the permanent campus for ELAC South Gate is having issues with land and water contamination. Before being selected as the area for the new campus the section of land in South Gate was home to the Firestone Company where they made tires. Jimenez said that now that construction has begun, some issues had to be addressed due to the remains of toxic chemicals in the air, land and water quality that Firestone left behind.

Jimenez used the example of the Dakota Access pipeline protest to show what people have had to do in response to big business and corporate greed. He was highlighting the damage underrepresented people have been through and continue to go through. 

“We’re focusing our attention on that sort of economic gain rather than the livelihoods of the populations that are being affected by that economic gain,” Jimenez said. 

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