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Report Pollution in Your Neighborhood with Heal The Bay's Hotline List

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Clogged storm drains in L.A. River. Photo: ChazWags/flickr/Creative Commons

When it comes to the environment, everyone is part of the solution. To make things easier for the general public, Heal the Bay has just published an updated contact list on their website for residents to report pollution issues.

Residents can report sewage spills, clogged storm drains, illegal dumping, or other similar issues by consulting the contact numbers listed, by neighborhood, on the site. The link can be found on Heal the Bay's website.

According to James Alamillo, Urban Programs Manager at Heal the Bay, the contact list has existed since the 1990s, after the Clean Water Act required cities with more than 100,000 people to develop stormwater management plans. Though a public education campaign was a critical component, it soon became apparent that the city had yet to establish formal procedures to report pollution problems.

"For example, most people often called the fire department thinking that the illegal discharge was considered hazardous waste, and get frustrated when no one came out to address the issues. Also, many people did not know the plethora of jurisdictions that existed with in the general L.A. basin," writes Alamillo.

He adds that different contact points also exist within different neighborhoods, which compounded the problem. "People could not often differentiate the jurisdictions for their work, play, or living environments. For example, they might want to report an illegal discharge they saw at work when they got home; however, they may work in Hawthorne but live in Inglewood."

To guide residents and untangle the sometimes-confusing reporting lines for pollution, Heal the Bay developed this list. "We decided to organize the hotline numbers as a mechanism to facilitate the reporting process, reduce the bureaucratic frustration for residents, and improve response actions by cities."

After a decade, the organization was then prompted to update the list and ensure all the contact numbers were still accurate, as the Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted a new iteration for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits. It was a task they found easier this time around, since the general public had time to understand runoff issues.

Making a report can run the gamut depending on the city. It can mean leaving a voice mail or actually speaking with someone on the phone. Some cities have also developed apps to report such problems . Alamillo advises well-meaning callers to be patient. Some cities may take a few days to respond to reports. He also reminds residents to take note of details when making a report such as time, date, and location. Photographs are a great addition. If you've already made a report and still no one responds, Alamillo says Heal the Bay is more than willing to work with residents on a plan of action.

Report any pollution issues in your neighborhood. Check out Heal the Bay's updated list at their website.

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