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U.S. EPA Honors 5 Arizona Environmental Heroes

Release Date: 04/16/2009
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415 947 4248, chavez.wendy@epa.gov

40 groups and individuals recognized for outstanding achievement in protecting the environment

SAN FRANCISCO -- During the agency's 11th annual Environmental Awards Ceremony in San Francisco today, U.S. EPA acting Regional Administrator Laura Yoshii recognized five Arizona organizations and individuals in recognition of their efforts to protect and preserve the environment in 2008.

“It is a great pleasure and honor that we can recognize the innovative and important environmental work achieved by this year’s impressive group of organizations and individuals, and the example they set for all of us to follow,” Yoshii said. “This year's winners and nominees have made superb efforts to protect and preserve our air, water and land, and increased awareness of the environmental challenges we all face.”

The Pacific Southwest’s Environmental Awards program acknowledges commitment and significant contributions to the environment in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Pacific Islands and tribal lands. Forty groups and individuals were selected from over 200 nominees received this year from businesses, local, government officials, tribes, media, environmental organizations and community activists.

The Arizona winners are:

Ann Marie Wolf
Sonora Environmental Research Institute, Inc.
Tucson
Ann Marie Wolf is the program manager for the Community for A Renewed Environment, or CARE; the executive director for the Sonora Environmental Research Institute; and works with the Community Assist of Southern Arizona (CASA) program. Her leadership has been instrumental in the success of the CARE program’s voluntary reduction of toxic emissions in predominantly low income and minority neighborhoods in South Tucson. Under her guidance, a cadre of 50 promotoras was recruited, trained, and directed to visit 300 businesses in the autobody repair sector, which had been identified as having the greatest potential for toxic emissions reductions in an area of South Tucson. As a result, 129,000-pounds of solvents were reduced in autobody shops. Wolf’s knowledge, integrity, and sincere concern for the community’s health and the environment have made this a highly successful community project.

City of Phoenix Public Works Department
Phoenix
The Phoenix Public Works Department has two innovative waste programs. One is mobile Household Hazardous Waste Collection. While other cities have a permanent facility, Phoenix brings collection events into neighborhoods. Each year, 10 three-day weekend events are held throughout the city to collect car batteries, paint, used oil and e-waste -- reducing the volume of pollutants that end up in the landfill. Most of the waste is shipped directly to recyclers and disposal facilities, reducing the need for hazardous waste storage. More than 10,000 households participate. In addition, the city’s plastic bag recycling program has sprouted hundreds of “Bag Central Station” receptacles throughout Phoenix since the kickoff last November. Early results from the city’s trash sorting facilities showed a 20 percent decrease in plastic bags.

Rodney Glassman, Councilman, and City of Tucson staff
Tucson
The city of Tucson has passed the nation’s first Rainwater Harvesting Ordinance, as well as a Gray Water Ordinance. Because there’s so little surface water in the Tucson area, the city’s major water source has always been groundwater. These ordinances are aimed at reducing the use of scarce drinking water to irrigate thirsty desert landscapes. The city estimates that 45 percent of water use is for landscaping, and using rainwater and gray water would greatly reduce this. The ordinance requires rainwater harvesting plans and capturing systems for any new commercial building built after June 1, 2010. The Gray Water Ordinance requires that new homes built after that date be plumbed for gray water irrigation systems. This means having a drain for sinks, showers, bathtubs, and washing machines separate from drains for all other plumbing, to allow for future installation of a gray water system.

Lillie Lane
Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency
Window Rock
Lillie Lane, the Navajo Nation EPA’s Public Information Officer, has worked with Navajo communities and to bring unprecedented levels of awareness and protection to people at risk from the impacts associated with abandoned uranium mines. While the mines are closed, the legacy of uranium contamination from over 500 abandoned mines remains. Lane’s work was instrumental in assessing over 100 Navajo homes, 200 wells and 40 abandoned mines to determine threats to residents. She conducted extensive door-to-door outreach in extremely remote, inaccessible areas to ensure Navajo families were not drinking water contaminated with radionuclides. Lane has built strong relationships based on trust with many Navajo Nation community members and continues to help the EPA meet its aggressive goals to address the legacy of uranium mining in the Navajo Nation.

Global Water
Phoenix
Global Water is a leader in water conservation through recycling and reuse. Its new Global Water Center in Maricopa, Arizona -- the county’s first LEED certified utility facility -- incorporates the latest in water management engineering, sustainable design and construction, and public education. The center cleans and treats wastewater -- making it useful again for irrigating parks, golf courses and schools. The Global Water Center was constructed with recycled materials, including its roof, which is made of 100 percent recycled aluminum cans. The Center is Arizona’s first commercial facility with dual plumbing, which reduces drinkable water usage by 83 percent. The building also uses 33 percent less electricity by using natural light and high-efficiency heating and air conditioning systems.

For the complete list of winners, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region09/awards. Beginning today and throughout the coming weeks, a series of blogs will feature several of the winners at: http://blog.epa.gov/blog/2009/04/16/pacific-southwest-environmental-awards-we-are-inspired/

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