Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act – Did You Know? 20 LA Clean Water Facts and Figures

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Legacy Park

Figure #19 - The City of Malibu's Legacy Park can capture and clean 2.6 million gallons of stormwater per day to protect water quality at local beaches. (credit: Kent McIntosh, LACSD)

 20 LA Clean Water Facts and Figures

Register for the Oct 9th celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Clean Water Act at the Japanese American National Museum in Downtown LA.

  1. The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, vetoed by President Richard Nixon and in the first override of his Presidency, both houses of Congress overrode the veto and passed the bill on Oct 18, 1972.
  2. California’s Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act was passed in 1969 to integrate water quality regulation and enforcement under one agency – the State Water Quality Control Board. The law became the basis for the Federal Clean Water Act and is still a powerful force in California water law. (source KCET)
  3. The City of Los Angeles oversees one of the nation’s largest wastewater treatment facilities with nearly 7,000 miles of sewer lines. (source: City of Los Angeles)
  4. California’s wastewater agencies successfully convey 99.9989% of wastewater to treatment plants based on State CIWQS data. Every year wastewater professionals and members of the California Water Environment Association focus on doing even better. (source: CWEA)
  5. The City of Los Angeles has eliminated 83% of sanitary sewer overflows since the baseline year of 2000/2001. (source: City of Los Angeles)
  6. 30% of wastewater professionals will retire over the next 10 years. Since many wastewater professionals started their careers in the 1970s and 80s CWEA expects a wave of retirements on the horizon and we will need 1,000+ new wastewater workers in Southern California. To learn more about a rewarding career in water visit www.workforwater.com or www.cwea.org/jobs (source: CWEA/WEF)
  7. Every day the two main wastewater treatment plants recover 3,700,000 pounds of organic material to be reused as farm fertilizer and landfill cover. The Hyperion Treatment Plant processes nearly 650 tons of biosolids per day (City of Los Angeles). The Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts Joint Water Pollution Control Plant processes 1,200 tons per day (source: LACSD website). The organic material “cooks” in large digester tanks to kill harmful bacteria. During this process biogas is produced and used to power generators that provide electricity for the wastewater treatment process.
  8. Recycling water has occurred since the dawn of time. In the LA Basin 15 water reclamation plants safely clean, purify and recycle water. The City of Los Angeles started recycling water in 1929 with the first experimental water reclamation plant near Griffith Park (click for video).  Today, the City of Los Angeles owns and operates 4 treatment/water reclamation plants.  The City of Burbank owns 1. The Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts has 10 water reclamation facilities and 1 wastewater treatment plant and is one of the largest producers of recycled water in the world. (source: LACSD website)
  9. The Los Angeles County Flood Control District captures 50 billion gallons of stormwater, imported and recycled water each year flowing through the San Gabriel River and allows it to naturally filter into the LA basin’s groundwater aquifer. (source: LACFCD)
  10. In an average year the LA Basin lets 120 billion gallons of stormwater flow right through the Santa Monica and San Pedro watersheds and out into the ocean.  This resource is known to be a safe solution to the LA Basin’s frequent water shortages; however there is little sustained funding for stormwater capture and treatment projects. (source: Council for Watershed Health) And Mother Nature doesn’t pay a water or wastewater bill!
  11. To protect beach water quality the LACFCD operates 23 Low-Flow Diversions to direct four million gallons of dry-weather urban run-off (sometimes called urban slobber) into the sanitary sewer system or treating it onsite. These diversion systems protect the Santa Monica Bay, Marina Del Rey and Long Beach. (source: LACFCD)
  12. LACFCD also operates two multi-benefit projects like the Dominguez Gap Wetlands in Long Beach and the Tujunga Wash Greenway in the San Fernando Valley. Built by LACFCD the wetlands allow for groundwater recharge while also removing pollutants from water and increasing open space, recreational opportunities and habitat. Engineered wetlands and streams allow riparian plants to remove heavy metals, oil, excessive nutrients and grease from urban runoff. (source: LACFCD)
  13. On Sept 8th the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, Los Angeles County Flood Control District, Army Corp of Engineers and the Water Replenishment District celebrated 50 years of operating the Whittier Spreading grounds which started operation in 1962. LACFCD, LACSD and WRD operate several spreading grounds and water reclamation facilities and have recycled and purified nearly 500 billion gallons of water which filters down through several hundred feet of soil to replenish groundwater supplies. (source: WRD website)
  14. Membranes were invented in Los Angeles in 1959 at UCLA. What are membranes? Dr. Sidney Loeb and Dr. Srinivasa Sourirajan invented a polymeric membrane that made reverse osmosis desalination commercially viable. Reverse osmosis is now used throughout the water industry to produce billions of gallons of safe, clean and healthy drinking water and irrigation water from poor quality and salty water sources. In recent year’s UCLA researches took the technology further, developing thin film nanocomposite membranes (commercially produced by NanoH2O in El Segundo) which dramatically reduces the energy needs and cost of desalination and advanced wastewater treatment. (source: UCLA)
  15. The Water Replenishment District and the Long Beach Water Department work together to operate the high-tech Leo J Vander Lans water reclamation facility in Long Beach. The facility takes treated water from the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts’ Long Beach Water Reclamation Plant and puts it through membrane filtration, reverse osmosis filtration and UV light disinfection to produce high-quality recycled water that is injected underground at the Alamitos Seawater Barrier. The Alamitos Barrier prevents salty ocean water from infiltrating into LA County and Orange County drinking water aquifers. (source: Long Beach Water Department)
  16. West Basin Municipal Water District serves nearly a million people in 17 cities throughout the coastal L.A. area and is one of the nation’s leading, most creative and cutting edge innovators in water recycling. Since 1995, West Basin has recycled more than 140 billion gallons of water for more than 350 customer locations throughout the South Bay. They take water cleaned by the City of Los Angeles Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant in Playa del Rey and use advanced treatment systems (membranes, reverse osmosis and UV disinfection) to turn sewer water into 5 different types of custom designed waters – purified to the level needed by the customer. Water reuse customers include the seawater barrier and groundwater recharge, industries, irrigation for parks, ball fields and golf courses, boiler feed, and ultra-pure water – water that is too clean for humans to drink. (source: West Basin Municipal Water District).
  17. The City of Los Angeles’ Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion project to secondary wastewater treatment in the late 1990’s was honored as one of the Top 10 Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century by the American Public Works Association. It was also the City’s single largest capital improvement project ever until the Tom Bradley International Terminal project was constructed last year. (source: ENR)
  18. In 2007 a poll of doctors by the British Medical Journal selected sanitation and sewers as the greatest medical breakthrough of the modern era because of the number of lives saved and increase in longevity thanks to proper sanitation. Antibiotics came in second in the poll. (Source: British Medical Journal).
  19. LA’s water professionals are finding new, cost-effective ways to clean water while also providing more recreational opportunities for residents and additional habitat benefits. One of the LA Basin’s best examples of a win-win-win water purifying project is Malibu Legacy Park in the City of Malibu. The City and its new park are the 2012 winner of the Water Environment Federation’s national Water Quality Improvement Award. The Park is the centerpiece of the City’s $50 million commitment to improving ocean water quality. The prize marks the seventh major award for Legacy Park in the past year. The park now holds an impressive array of commendations, including the American Society of Civil Engineers’ prestigious Project of the Year Award. (source: City of Malibu)
  20. Did you know you can sign-up for a tour of your local, resource recovering wastewater treatment plant?
    1. City of Los Angeles, Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant, Playa Del Rey – Nancy Carr – Nancy.Carr@lacity.org
    2. City of Los Angeles, Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant, Van Nuys – Rama Korand – Rama.Korand@lacity.org
    3. West Basin Water District, Edward C. Little Water Reclamation facility, visit www.westbasin.org/media/public-tours

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