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Securing a Reliable Water Supply


Securing a Reliable Water Supply
March 15th, 2011
By: Jim Burton, PE

EcoKai Environmental, Inc co-sponsored the Metropolitan Los Angeles Branch (MLAB) Hydrology and Hydraulics Technical Group (H&H) of ASCE with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The sponsors hosted the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) for a lunchtime presentation of important initiatives they are pursuing to secure a sustainable water supply to meet L.A.’s future water demands. We welcomed more than 80 attendees including municipal and water district personnel, students, interested citizens, and some of the region’s leading scientists and consultants.

Jim Yannotta, LADWP’s Assistant Director of Water Resources, described the sources of L.A.’s water, and described the current water supply challenges. These challenges include uncertain allocations from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta, environmental obligations in the Eastern Sierras and the Owens Valley, contaminated groundwater, and the uncertainties of climate change.

Serge Haddad, a Civil Engineering Associate at LADWP, followed Yannotta’s introduction and described in further detail LADWP’s water recycling initiatives. Although water recycling in L.A. has been occurring for more than 30 years for irrigation and industrial uses, the seawater intrusion barrier, and for lake and riverine habitat, Haddad described that the City still sends over 1,000 acre-feet (AF) per day of treated wastewater to the ocean every day. He then described the partnership LADWP has with the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation and how those two agencies together plan to increase recycled water usage from the current 7,000 to more than 50,000 AF per year through the expansion of the purple pipe distribution system and groundwater replenishment. After explaining the purification processes employed by the City, including microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet and hydrogen peroxide disinfection, Haddad detailed the major benefits of water recycling for direct use and groundwater recharge.

Johanna Chang, also a Civil Engineering Associate at LADWP, followed Haddad’s presentation with an in-depth description of LADWP’s stormwater capture program. After describing existing challenges such as excessive impervious surfaces and insufficient spreading and storage capacity, she detailed LADWP’s goals objectives for the recently formed Watershed Management Group. These objectives include increasing stormwater capture for groundwater recharge, improving inter-agency coordination, and providing other watershed benefits (like water quality, flood protection, and open space enhancements). Chang highlighted several partnerships LADWP maintains, such as with the Los Angeles County Flood Control District and TreePeople, and then described LADWP’s efforts at integrating their goals with those of other regional efforts including the Greater Los Angeles County Integrated Regional Water Management Planning, the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan, and the City of Los Angeles Water/Wastewater IRP, among others.


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