September 22, 2008
WATER RECYCLING, INCLUDING GROUNDWATER REPLENISHMENT,
TO HELP CREATE SUSTAINABLE WATER SUPPLY
LOS ANGELES – As the City’s water supply outlook becomes more critical, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) hosted a public forum on Friday, Sept. 19 to begin a dialogue on developing sustainable water supplies for Los Angeles, with a focus on increasing the use of recycled water.
More than 250 people-including representatives of neighborhood councils, community groups, environmental activists and members of Los Angeles, Orange County and state water agencies-gathered at the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant to discuss recycled water, including groundwater replenishment, from both a policy and health standpoint. Groundwater replenishment involves taking highly treated wastewater–purified through state-of-the-art processes including reverse osmosis–and sending it to spreading basins to replenish groundwater.
Expanding recycled water is a key component of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s “Securing L.A.’s Water Supply,” a 20-year water supply action plan for Los Angeles. “We now have the wisdom, the technology, and proven ability to purify water for high quality drinking water over a several-year and several-filtrations process,” Villaraigosa said. “Orange County has just opened the largest groundwater replenishment system in the nation. The water is clean, it’s safe, and we want it here in LA.”
After speaking the Mayor invited LADWP CEO and General Manager David Nahai, Cynthia Ruiz, president of the Board of Public Works Bureau of Sanitation, and other city officials to drink a glass of Orange County’s advance-treated recycled water. “That is good tasting water,” the Mayor said.
In his remarks, Nahai emphasized that Los Angeles is at a critical juncture in its storied water history. For decades the City has imported water from hundreds of miles away, but now those water sources are diminishing, either due to climate change, periods of drought, or restrictions to benefit the environment.
“Today, our focus is on expanding water recycling for irrigation, industrial and environmental uses. But we also must move toward new, state-of-the-art treatment to purify already treated wastewater, and use this new purified water to replenish our groundwater supplies for drinking,” Nahai said. “Moving forward with groundwater replenishment just makes sense. It provides a locally controlled source of water that is not at the mercy of drought, or court decisions, or politics.”
Other speakers included LADWP Commissioner Lee Kanon Alpert, a San Fernando Valley resident who is active in numerous Valley civic organizations; Ruiz; Assemblyman Mike Duvall of Orange County; Mike Markus, general manager, Orange County Water District; and Frances Spivy Weber, State Water Resources Control Board.
To address health and safety concerns, the forum featured a panel discussion on water purification from technical, regulatory and health perspectives. The panel included Mark Gold, Health the Bay Gold; Tracy Egoscue, executive officer, Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board; Gary Yamamoto, acting chief, Drinking Water Section, California Department of Public Health; Mike Wehner, assistant general manager, Orange County Water District; and Pankaj Parekh, LADWP director of water quality compliance.
LADWP presented the forum in collaboration with the Los Angeles Department of Public Works Bureau of Sanitation, VICA, Heal the Bay, TreePeople, and Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils. It was only the beginning of a multi-year outreach campaign to inform the public and raise awareness about the need for recycled water and groundwater replenishment to create a locally sustainable water supply in Los Angeles.