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Enforcing the Law in California
drinking water regulations might result in the closure of many labor camps, creating additional housing, welfare, and social burdens for county administrators, taxpayers, and camp residents. According to these contacts, labor camp owners have often chosen to close their camps rather than comply with regulations.
On September 6, 1991, EPA issued notices of violation to the 191 labor camp owners and the California Department of Health Services, Office of Drinking Water. The notices warned the owners either to come into compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act or to face further enforcement action and penalties. The maximum civil penalty is $25,000 per day per violation for each day a system is in violation.
With full cooperation from the state and counties, 49 systems are now
reported to be in full compliance. as a result, weren't tracked or
Another 79 are in the process of monitored for any potential violations.
permit application and/or conducting EPA found that most of these
the required sampling under systems were not sampling their water supervision from their counties. Nine sufficiently for contaminants. Some labor camps have stopped operating, had often exceeded limits for coliform eight of them permanently, since bacteria, and some exceeded limits for
September 1991. It is not clear how nitrates. The presence of coliform many of the closures were related to bacteria in drinking water indicates EPA's enforcement. The remaining that organisms may be present that can systems were not actually public water cause diseases such as typhoid,
systems due to misinformation, cholera, infectious hepatitis, and
originally received from the counties, dysentery. Coliform bacteria also can regarding numbers of people housed or indicate that parasites are present. length of occupancy. Nitrate, which derives from sewage,
EPA will continue to work with the fertilizers, and feedlots, poses a threat state Office of Drinking Water and the of "blue baby syndrome," a potentially affected counties to identify and life-threatening anemic condition in ensure that all applicable migrant labor babies up to six months of age.
camp water systems are inventoried More than one county contact
and monitored for compliance with the warned that strict enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act. O
Individuals or companies who supply
From a list provided by the state of more than 1,000 labor camps, EPA sorted out over 300 that might be operating drinking water systems as defined by the Safe Drinking Water Act. They were spread throughout 41 of California's 58 counties. Some of these camps, it was discovered, were no longer in existence; a few were served by larger, regulated public water systems.
Further investigation of the camps that were operating water systems meeting the definition of a small public water system revealed 191 to be in violation of the law. They served more than 8,500 people in 20 counties. Of the 191 systems in violation, EPA found that 141 were not recognized by the state as public water systems and,
Migrant farm workers
vulnerable to environmental
Steps at EPA
The MAI Task Force Recruits Minority Professionals
by Clarice E. Gaylord and Robert Knox
needs and to develop a comprehensive
Worse yet are reports from the Department of Labor indicating that members of minority groups are much less likely to be employed as scientists and engineers than nonminorities.
n an article entitled “Shortfall in the were minorities. Yet minority groups
Workforce" that appeared in the are among the fastest growing September/October 1991 issue of EPA segments of the U.S. population. By Journal, Maureen Delaney cited
the year 2,000, according to the same alarming statistics that "labor needs in report, blacks, Hispanics, and Native science, engineering, and technology Americans are expected to comprise 47 are growing, while at the same time, percent of all school-age students (up there has been a dramatic reduction in from 25 percent in 1988) and 42 the numbers of students preparing to percent of the new entrants into the meet the demands of these vital
workforce. occupations." By 2010, according to In 1987 Congress established the National Science Foundation
President's Task Force on Women, projections, the United States could Minorities, and the Handicapped in suffer a shortfall of 560,000 science Science and Technology to address and engineering professionals.
this emerging national problem. After Unfortunately, the prospects for holding several public hearings around minorities joining science and
the country, the Task Force produced engineering professions are even more two reports which identified serious discouraging. In 1988, the total number problems with science education and of minorities enrolled in four-year predicted severe shortages of scientists colleges and universities was 19.6 and engineers in the future-due in percent, compared to 80.4 percent for part to changing U.S. demographics. nonminorities; minority enrollment in To quote from one of their reports, graduate school was 11.6 percent, "The factors-racism, sexism, and compared to 88.4 percent for
prejudice against people with nonminorities. And only 4 percent of disabilities that have limited 8,262 Ph.D.s awarded in all natural opportunities for many in America are sciences and engineering went to also narrowing access to science and minorities.
engineering careers.” Worse yet are reports from the
Recommendation: "Each federal Department of Labor indicating that agency should provide stable and members of minority groups are much substantial support for effective less likely to be employed as scientists intervention programs that graduate and engineers than nonminorities. In quality scientists and engineers who 1988, only 4.4 percent of the 4.5
are members of underrepresented million people employed as scientists groups." and engineers in the United States
In response to the findings and
recommendations of the President's (Gaylord is Deputy Director of EPA's
Task Force, EPA created the Office of Human Resources
Administrator's Workgroup on Management. Knox is Ombudsman for Women, Minorities, and the the Office of Sold Waste and
Handicapped in Science and Emergency Response.)
Technology to assess EPA's workforce
engineers, a proportion which has
One of these recommendations was
Graduation at Morgan State
support. The MAI Task Force
Faculty from minority academic institutions are encouraged to participate in EPA's Faculty Fellows program, where they may spend four to six months in research facilities
working on priority environmental Morgan State photo. projects. The objective is for faculty,
enriched by this experience, to return
to their home institutions to continue A program to address this "pipeline" relevant research and to mentor and problem was piloted in summer 1991. encourage students in environmental The Coop-Progression program, a studies. This program accommodates modified version of the Office of
15 to 20 faculty from HBCU and Personnel Management's Cooperative HACU campuses a year. Education program, recruits 10th and Another new program is a two-year 11th grade minority students to be Environmental Science Management employed part-time at EPA while
Training program based at Tufts receiving training in science and math University. The program offers from a local minority institution. On midcareer minority professionals an their graduation from high school, EPA opportunity to earn a master's degree pays up to $5,000 a year college
in environmental science management tuition and employs the students as and to gain work experience at EPA. co-ops during undergraduate and Eight participants are currently graduate training. Noncompetitive enrolled in this program, which is in conversion to federal employment is
its first year. offered at the completion of college. A second broad initiative stemming This program is being expanded to from the MAI Task Force action plan include EPA's laboratories and
is to build research capacities at regional offices during 1992.
minority institutions. From its review, Retaining minority students in
the task force found that past funding undergraduate and graduate
levels for research assistance at MAIS environmental programs requires had not been adequate to build long-term financial and mentoring research activities in environmental
minority institutions. The MAI Task
One broad initiative fostered by the
Steps at EPA
The environmental equity
areas, to develop curricula in sciences importance of an effective recruitment and engineering, or to encourage
strategy, and this is reflected in a third faculty participation in these fields. broad initiative. While more and more Recommended remedies included predominately majority schools are increasing research dollars to MAIs, recruiting minority students and providing technical assistance in the faculty into their science and development of research grants and engineering programs, HBCUs and environmental curricula, and
HACUs still graduate more than half purchasing "state-of-the-art"
the minorities who receive college instrumentation through a proposed degrees. Therefore, these institutions new equipment acquisitions program.
are viewed as the best resources for For example, laboratory devices such increasing minorities' access to as ultracentrifuges, advanced computer environmental careers and research technology, and lasers would help opportunities. make MAIs more competitive for
EPA has strengthened its research funding.
Agency-wide recruitment strategy by Strengthening the
establishing a National Recruitment environmental-science research center Advisory Committee. One of the capability at minority institutions was recommendations of this committee definitely a challenge. Prior to 1990, was to establish college relations there was only one EPA-funded
programs on several HBCU and HACU research center at an MAI: at Howard
campuses. Senior EPA officials are University in Washington, DC, as part now serving as Campus Executives, of a Hazardous Substance Research coordinating recruitment activities, Center Consortium with the University and fostering linkages between these of Michigan and Michigan State
adopted institutions and EPA. University. Since the action plan was As part of its new campus-relations issued-and due primarily to a 1991 program, EPA initiated a Memorandum Congressional appropriations bill—two of Understanding with Morgan State new Academic Centers of Excellence University in Baltimore. This have been established. Clark Atlanta comprehensive agreement encourages University in Atlanta, Georgia, has a personnel exchanges, curriculum research/training center where faculty development in environmental areas, and students can participate in
research support, technical seminars, Superfund emergency
etc. The Morgan State program serves remedial-response research. Funds as a model for other MAI/EPA have been appropriated for a second cooperative arrangements. center at Southern University in Baton
Successful environmental programs Rouge, Louisiana, to begin a statistical at MAls can help entice minority research component in hazardous
students to enter environmental fields. waste research. And funds have been Moreover, the environmental equity appropriated for a consortium of the movement has made environmental University of Texas at El Paso, Arizona careers more attractive and more State University, New Mexico State
relevant to minorities. A recent survey University, and the University of Utah conducted by the Panos Institute found to study air, water, and hazardous
that “environment-related issues have waste problems along the
become a high priority among U.S.-Mexican border.
culturally diverse communities ... The task force also realized the
because the movement takes a more holistic approach by integrating the
environment into a broader agenda
.... For blacks this is a life-or-death issue."
Just possibly, MAI college students could serve as role models in their communities and perhaps involve high-school and junior-high-school inner city youths in environmental initiatives, thus fostering an even younger generation of future environmentalists who have a sense of environniental ethics and responsibility for the community. Students concerned about the health of their communities could be motivated to learn the skills necessary to take air and water samples and to help monitor nearby industrial facilities. Many MAI students are products of environmentally troubled communities and have a special cultural sensitivity to these communities' concerns. They have great potential to be employees of public/private environmental organizations or to be future environmental policy and decision makers with a keen understanding of community sensitivities on environmental issues.
In short, supporting minority academic institutions by enhancing the knowledge and skills of their students and faculty, building their research capabilities in environmental areas, and having an effective recruitment program will help meet future demands for a technical workforce. O
THE U.S. COLONIAS:
unscrupulous land developers—are
lines, no fire protection facilities, and Border Shantytowns Are Separate But Unequal
only a few community services, these unplanned, unhealthy shantytowns exist today in a shadowland far
removed from mainstream America. by Jack Lewis
Colonias residents have always been too poor to take the initiative on the
problems just listed, and the counties elcome to the Weslaco colonia in power—and their community (largely in which they live have also been too
Hidalgo County, Texas, 30 miles flat without drainage infrastructure) poor---or too prejudiced—to care. upriver from Brownsville, a city of has unpaved roads that flood
Nearby cities have been all too willing 125,000 people, and an equal distance frequently, swamping outhouses,
to wash their hands of colonias down the Rio Grande from McAllen, cesspools, and primitive septic tanks. problems, saying, "They fall outside town of 100,000. Weslaco itself has a Houses are self-built shelters
our jurisdiction." Finally, at long last, population of 25,000 within its city constructed of scrap lumber and other state government has intervened in a limits, which currently exclude the shoddy supplies, and though tiny, they big way, and so has the federal 2,500 Hispanic Americans who live are home to large families of mostly
government. mostly without urban amenities in a Spanish-speaking farm workers, who On February 25, 1992, EPA released fairly typical "colonia"--a Spanish face seasonal unemployment rates as a comprehensive plan for the cleanup term for a neighborhood or
high as 20 percent and unnaturally of pollution along the entire community-on the outskirts of town. high incidences of dysentery and
U.S.-Mexico border that will involve Seventy percent of the colonia hepatitis A.
an expenditure of well over $1 billion inhabitants live without access to any Texas now has laws to prevent new over the next several years by the utility-neither fresh water nor sewage colonias from cropping up, but the
United States, Mexico, the border hookups, neither gas nor electric existing ones---created by
states, and private industry. The federal government's share in fiscal
year 1993 will be approximately $241 City of Weslaco photo.
million, of which $75 million has been earmarked for drinking water and sewage disposal improvements in the Texas and New Mexico colonias. EPA will administer $50 million for sewage treatment improvements in these colonias, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Administration devotes $25 million to improving water supply infrastructure.
Commenting on EPA's task in the colonias, EPA Administrator William K. Reilly said, "I don't think there are higher risks to health anywhere in the United States than in these unsewered communities .... The health of thousands of people is at risk in the colonias due to the absence of environmental safeguards that most Americans take for granted. We intend to correct this."
The state of Texas has already made (Lewis is an assistant editor of EPA
Typical colonias house comes
a major commitment of its own. In Journal.)
equipped with outhouse privy.