In the City of Maywood, the tap water was the color of ice tea. When tested the water contained high levels of manganese, TCE, a known carcinogen, lead and mercury. Manganese in high concentrations can disrupt the nervous system and create Parkinson-like symptoms. Water contaminated by manganese is also discolored and foul-smelling and -tasting. While most residents chose not to drink the water, they used it to bathe, brush their teeth, wash their clothes, wash fruits and vegetables, and cook. For several years Union de Vecinos organized in the City of Maywood to clean up the water to make it safe and useable for community members. Through our organizing efforts, we worked with city and state officials and the private waters companies who service the company to reduce the levels of contamination. We also accomplished the following:
In Boyle Heights, many industries are located closely to residential areas especially in low income communities of color. Though some industries may be in compliance with specific air quality standards, the high concentration of these businesses, have a cumulative impact causing high levels of air pollution. Clean Up Green Up (CUGU) is a community driven initiative that addresses the high levels of air pollution caused by stationary sources of contamination. CUGU is an initiative that Union de Vecinos has been working on for the last 5 years in partnership with The LA Collaborative for Environmental Health and Justice. It will create a pilot program in the three highest contaminated communities in Los Angeles (Boyle Heights, Wilmington and Pacoima) that, when passed, will create green zones in these communities. These green zones will require performance standards that will prevent and reduce air pollution and provide resources for specific industries to incorporate green practices and technology.