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Arroyo Seco Foundation

News of the Arroyo


Bringing Brookside Golf the purple pipes: Larry Wilson





July 28, 2015 - After many years of planning, recycled water might finally be coming to Pasadena, first to Brookside Golf Course.


Larry Wilson


Pasadena Star-News


Koiner Course, Brookside, 18th green, getting a little wet. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Here in the middle of the long, hot, mostly dry summer — broken only by intermittently odd drenching downpours, our new weather’s version of the classic Mexican monsoon — the city of Pasadena will hold a drought update for local businesses next Tuesday morning at the Brookside Golf Course clubhouse.

I’ll try to drop by and report back. Meanwhile, the Water & Power Department says that for the six weeks prior to July 15, Pasadena’s water savings held steady at 23 percent, almost good enough for Gov. Brown’s 25 percent goal.

But I’m noting the interesting meeting venue adjacent to 36 fairways, greens and variously dense rough of the Koiner and Nay courses there, one of the city’s biggest water users and yet an entity trying hard to join the conservation corps as well. It’s torn out acres of turf and is a far more efficient course than ever before. Many of us wish that the courses could be irrigated by the millions of gallons of rainwater that flow every year down the storm drain that cut through their heart, but the county and other wet parties ensure that pipe dream has been dampened.

But at another Brookside meeting on Aug. 13, there will be discussion of an almost equally green way to keep the golf courses green: recycled water. Stuff that’s been in the sewer and then gets cleaned up. If all goes well, it’s water that could fairly soon meet up to 9 percent of the city’s water needs by irrigating Art Center College of Design in the Linda Vista Hills, the golf courses, the Rose Bowl and Brookside Park. Then, future phases of the project mention piping to run along streets as far away from the Arroyo Seco as Mendocino Lane in Altadena, Grand Avenue, California Boulevard and Oak Knoll in order to bring irrigation water to Caltech, PCC, Huntington Hospital, the huge water use of the Glenarm Power Plant, the Gamble House, Tournament House, lots of little parks and even San Marino’s Huntington Library. Even farther into the future are plans to pipe water to Annandale Golf Course, the county’s Altadena Golf Course, La Canada and St. Francis high schools and JPL.

That filtered water is currently held in a reservoir near Scholl Canyon Landfill in Glendale. It would be brought down into the Arroyo via the purple pipes that signify non-potable water in Orange County and other places that have gone ahead of us in this purely practical and even necessary endeavor, an effort that was derailed locally years ago when finicky people got unreasonably upset by the “toilet to tap” metaphor.

All water on Earth is finite. It all gets recycled eventually. May the purple pipe soon reign.

• Talking of the Arroyo Seco, as I am wont to do: So there I was on Sunday night, dutifully watching HBO’s “True Detective,” since the column I wrote a few weeks ago about how its fictional L.A.-adjacent city of Vinci is really the city of Vernon was one of the most talked-about pieces I’ve ever written, when there was a magnificent aerial shot of a house I recognized, set in a forest I didn’t. (Computers come in handy there.) When the camera zoomed in, I said to Phoebe, “We know that place. Oh, jeez, it’s the Ledbetters’!” That would be the Robinson House, the extraordinary Greene & Greene on South Grand Avenue that also hangs on the edge of the Arroyo just below the Colorado Street Bridge. Craftsman on the inside, on the exterior it’s half-timbered stucco-and-wood quite unlike the architects’ usual brown shingles. Begun in 1905 and built for financier Henry Robinson and his wife Laurabelle, the place was in shambles when Phaedra and Mark Ledbetter moved in to restore it. They and the kids lived for six years in the guest house while the work went on. The results are incredible. At a party once, I recall Jackson Browne, an infinity pool and an Arroyo-side teepee. For “Detective,” let’s just say the place formed a very attractive background for an orgy.

Larry Wilson

Reach the author at or follow Larry on Twitter: @PublicEditor.




Arroyo Seco Foundation, 570 W. Avenue 26 #450, Los Angeles, CA 90065-1011
PO Box 91622, Pasadena, CA 91109-1622 (323) 405-7326