By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
But I’m on record already as saying that I believe pretty soon we need to have a conversation with Angelenos about indirect potable use. Not only has Orange County done it; it’s done the world over. In European countries, where we wish we had a tenth of their rainfall, they’re recycling their water. I mean, this is not radical stuff. The technology is there. To have the current situation in which we treat our wastewater to very high standards and then dump it in the ocean — that surely is not tolerable.
What about ground water? Can we make better use of that?
Yes. The next area that we can tackle is aquifer remediation. We have a very vast aquifer in the San Fernando Valley, and we’re unable to take advantage of it because it’s contaminated with chromium 6, perchlorate and other contaminants. And DWP can no longer wait for that remediation to take the course it’s been taking. We need to play a more aggressive role in speeding up the remediation of the aquifer, which is a Superfund site. Once we do that, we’re going to find that aquifer will pay very handsome dividends because it can be replenished, utilized for water storage in wet years — it’s a natural water bank that we have right here within the city’s limits.
I was at the beach the other day as the tide went out just after a storm. I noticed a line of plastic and Styrofoam marking where the tide had been. I find it so appalling that we speed our rainfall down storm drains into the ocean, along with all the garbage that rain picks up on the streets. What can the DWP do about solving the urban-runoff problem?
We’re going to be moving on storm-water capture. The rainfall that we do get right now is wasted, at least 50 percent of it, and in the bargain it contaminates the coast because of the storm-drain system.
Imagine what we could do if we could capture that storm water, get it to spreading grounds, get it to percolate, get it to replenish underground aquifers, and again have it be there as a natural water bank straight from the skies to the ground, percolating through the subsurface to underground aquifers. We’re already able to do that with existing structures such as the Big Tujunga facility. But after years of neglect, its seismic condition is in some doubt. We have to make the investment to make sure its condition is safe.
Once we do that, we’ll be able to fill and refill that facility numbers of times during a rainy season, with the water flowing into spreading grounds that are already there. And we’ve entered into an agreement with the county in order to do that. Seed money has already been spent. And we intend to get the rest of the money from Prop. 84 funds [the water-quality bond passed in November 2006]. We tried to do it last year; we were not successful. We’re going to scratch and claw for it again the next session in Sacramento.
It would be huge if something like that could happen. It also seems like it’s common sense.
Right now the L.A. County beaches account for a $2 billion coastal economy. And if people feel that the water is contaminated, or they cannot walk on the beach for fear of getting cut with cut glass, or being assaulted with this dreadful sight of trash on the beach, why would they go? And if they don’t go, what happens to the beaches that are the pride of L.?A.? Our advertisement to the world?
That seems to be the front on which you can win some of these battles: It makes good business sense, high-minded values about the environment or not.
We’ve far too long suffered under this false assumption that somehow the environment and the economy run counter to each other. It’s absurd. Coastal contamination is a very, very clear example of how environmental degradation will cause economic damage. Not in the long term, but right here and now.
This agency you’re running now has a long and difficult history, and many people would say that mismanagement and corruption are endemic. It’s going to be hard, if not impossible, to change the way business is done here.
First, I reject the notion that organizations can’t change. That’s what they said about the regional water board when I first got there, and that’s what they’ve said about international law firms I’ve been a partner in. I don’t accept that.
Second, this organization has for a century delivered clean, reliable, safe, very inexpensive water to the city of Los Angeles, and since 1916 has delivered cost-effective, very dependable power to the city of Los Angeles. I want the work force here to feel proud of the service they’ve provided. I feel there’s a certain low morale around here.
That’s what I’ve heard. What do you plan to do about that?
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