Pasadena vs. L.A. in a fight for purple-pipe water
|October 17, 2017 - Los Angeles and Pasadena are wrangling over water from the LA/Glendale water recycling plant.|
|The Los Angeles River near the Sepulveda Dam. Photo by David Crane Southern California News Group|
Two years ago this past summer, I spread the good word in this space about the possibility of using recycled water to irrigate the thirstiest part of Pasadena: The fairways and greens of the 36 holes of the Brookside Golf Courses in the Arroyo Seco.
As I noted at the time, 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.
And the plan is — spoiler alert, was — to go way beyond west Pasadena. The stuff that’s been in the sewer and then got cleaned up, if all was to go well, 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 were plans to pipe water to the private Annandale Golf Course, the county’s Altadena Golf Course, La Canada and St. Francis high schools and JPL.
The other day as Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek was leading one of his periodic hikes as part of the city’s burgeoning OneArroyo campaign, I asked him how it was going on the purple-pipe front.
“It’s all messed up,” he told me. “The city of L.A. is trying to take the water instead. And it really doesn’t look good.”
Tuesday I reached out to Pasadena Water and Power for its take on the situation, and while Marketing Manager Margie Otto said the powers that be were locked up in meetings with the MWD, she summarized the situation this way: “Pasadena Water and Power’s non-potable water project (phase 1) is intended to bring 700 acre feet annually (1 million gallons) of treated waste water from the Los Angeles/Glendale Water Reclamation Plant to Pasadena.” Right. Then comes the problem: “As part of preparations to commence deliveries of recycled water to Pasadena, the city of Glendale petitioned the State Water Resources Control Board to seek their approval for a reduction in the amount of treated wastewater discharged into the L.A. River so that it could be delivered to Pasadena. The city of Los Angeles is protesting Glendale’s petition, expressing concern that any reduced discharges of treated wastewater into the L.A. River could impact the preservation of the L.A. River and its habitats.”
Well, at least it’s not a water grab for especially nefarious purposes. I mean, all of us Arroyo-supporters very much support the ongoing rejuvenation of the Los Angeles River instead. And now we know that some of the recycled water we’d like to bring into Pasadena is currently going to a good home.
But the fact is that Pasadena is already well down the road to planning for this new infusion of purple-pipe water, and it would have a very good home here as well. But the city says it’s fighting back: “Pasadena and the city of Glendale are communicating with representatives of Los Angeles and the State Water Board with respect to L.A.’s objections. We are hopeful that the state will recognize the importance of securing this water source for Pasadena and that granting Glendale’s request to reduce discharge of treated wastewater into the L.A. River will not adversely impact downstream habitat. The (Pasadena) project has already received millions in grant funding for its offset of potable water for non-drinking needs.”
We need the water. The L.A. River would like it, too. Those egrets and kayakers down there need to stay wet and cool. But Pasadena has already planned and invested in this for years. I hope the Water Board sees it our way. But if it won’t let all the recycled water flow down from Scholl into the Arroyo, perhaps a compromise can be worked out. Every drop counts.
Larry Wilson is on the Southern California News Group editorial board. firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @public editor.
Larry Wilson is public editor of the San Gabriel Valley Newspapers and a columnist and member of the editorial board for the Southern California News Group. He was hired as editorial page editor of the Pasadena Star-News in 1987, and then for 12 years was that paper's editor. He now writes editorials for SCNG, a local column in the Star-News on Wednesdays and a regional column for the group on Sundays.
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