(This story was edited to replace John Humphreville's preffered first name, Jack, and to correct the cost of groundwater replenishment.)
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is in the process of completing a new Recycled Water Master Plan, LADWP officials said Tuesday during a public forum at the Sepulveda Community Garden Center.
The forum was one of a series of five public presentations held in hopes of getting feedback from communities that would be affected by the plan.
In conjunction with the Department of Public Works Bureau of Sanitation, the LADWP developed the plan of innovative water supply solutions to meet the future demands of the city.
Water recycling, highly treated waste water that undergoes multiple treatment steps, has been found to be the most cost-effective solution. There are no local natural sources of water, making this plan essential to the future of the city’s water supply, officials indicated.
Currently, Los Angeles depends on imported water, as explained in a slide show presentation introduced by Jim Yannotta, LADWP assistant director of water resources.
Yannotta kicked off the forum with what he referred to as “L.A. water 101.”
L.A. imports 85 percent of its water, said Yannotta. Those sources include the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Delta in Northern California, the Los Angeles Aqueduct and the Colorado River Aqueduct.
“Historically, in Los Angeles, we’ve been able to get 15 percent of our water from groundwater wells,” said Yannotta. “But that’s a challenge.”
The main concerns are health-related with contamination being an issue, limiting pumping to the San Fernando Basin and totaling the usage of groundwater to an actual 11 percent.
The presentation included the Los Angeles rainfall history. Los Angeles averages about 15 inches of rain per year, according to Yannotta. But that cannot be relied on as a reliable water source.
“It has nothing to do with drought. This year has been a great water year," said Yannotta. “Our No. 1 goal is to serve you all with safe water, because if we can’t do that we shouldn’t even have a job.”
As a result of city conservation efforts, Los Angeles residents use the same amount of water now as they did 40 years ago, despite the higher population.
Residents conserved more than 40 billion gallons in 2009 and 2010, according to Yannotta.
The key strategies of the new Recycled Water Master Plan include groundwater replenishment with highly purified, or advanced treated, recycled water.
Purple pipes were on display representing the distribution irrigation network behind the master plan.
“By doing groundwater replenishment it gives us an additional source of supply for Los Angeles,” said Yonnatta.
Conner Everts, who is a member the Recycling Water Advisory Group, participates in an outreach program with the LADWP as an independent and offers his water expertise to the plans and future programs in presentations to the public.
LADWP and the Bureau of Sanitation formed the advisory group in 2009. It is comprised of about 50 stakeholders from across the city representing environmental groups, community based organizations, neighborhood councils, homeowner associations and others, who engage with city staff to provide ideas, input and concerns regarding recycled water.
“This issue means a lot to me,” Everts, who is a Southern California steelhead trout fisherman, said during the forum. He expressed his three concerns: the fish, the cost and clean beaches.
To date, Los Angeles has had a 30-year history of water recycling. The city treats more than 350 million gallons of waste water each day.
“[This amount would] be equal to about six Rose Bowls full,” said Doug Walters, LADWP senior environmental engineer assistant division manager.
All alternatives encompassed in the Recycled Water Master Plan are cheaper than utilizing the Metropolitan Water District as a source, which L.A. has done up to 52 percent.
“I happen to like [groundwater replenishment] because it’s $300 million cheaper, minor detail,” said Jack Humphreville, also an independent and member of the Recycling Water Advisory Group, at the forum.
The goal of groundwater replenishment is to provide “cleaner than drinking standards,” and to restore up to 30,000 acre-feet of water per year.
The benefits would include a reliable local source and drought-proof supply, according LADWP officials.
Paul Liu, LADWP waterworks engineer, concluded the presentation in Encino, leaving the audience with the opinion that the Recycled Water Master Plan and groundwater replenishment deserved their support.
The cost of the Recycled Water Master Plan was estimated at between $715 million and $1 billion in order to reach a total of 50,000 acre-feet per year of recycled water, according to Liu.
“All options, in our opinion, are better than doing nothing,” said Liu.