If we want a real river in L.A., we should start by cleaning up the water

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Nelson Chabarria says his love of chemistry began in a classroom at Los Angeles High, but he didn’t get to pursue a career right away. His Koreatown family needed help paying bills, so he went to work in the garment district and put the dream on hold for years.

But he never lost the bug, and at 34, he’s about to begin his second year of studying chemical technology at L.A. Trade Tech. And his summer job has made him all the more convinced about a career in environmental science.

One day last week, Chabarria stood in the middle of the Los Angeles River near Frogtown with water up to the tops of his boots. He wore rubber gloves, carried a small glass container, and stepped carefully over slippery rocks.

“Right here?” he called back to Katherine Pease, a watershed scientist with Heal the Bay.

Get more of Steve Lopez’s work and follow him on Twitter @LATstevelopez


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