Reuse may help Southern California’s water problems
Purification plant to allow southern Los Angeles County to become self-sufficient
Earlier this year, the Water Replenishment District of Southern California spent $10 million to buy an industrial site in Pico Rivera, a city in southeastern Los Angeles County. The site soon might be home to an important part of the solution to Southern California’s water woes.
The replenishment district earlier this month announced plans to construct a water purification plant on the site that will save money and, possibly, allow it to stop importing water from the Colorado River and the California Delta. Though funding for the construction of the $95 million plant isn’t settled yet, the district nonetheless is planning to start the project in 2016 and have it up and running by 2018. The construction costs will likely come both from local bonds and from the $7.5 billion state water bond passed by voters in 2014, though that decision hasn’t yet been made firm.
Once it is operational, the water purification plant will use a process of reverse osmosis to treat and reclaim sewage from the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County. That will allow the Water Replenishment District to refill the two aquifers it manages with local water rather than having to import it from outside the region. It currently purchases 21,000 acre-feet annually at a cost of $1,000 per acre-foot. The replenishment district says that price would be lowered to $200 per acre-foot after the water purification plant opens and begins to treat the sewage water.
Officials contend that the plant will make the sourcing of water cheaper and more efficient for local communities, as well as aiding the regions from which it currently buys the imported water.
“Not only are we helping to become independent from imported water, we’re also helping states in the Southwest region by using less water that comes from the Colorado River,” district President Sergio Calderon said.
The Water Replenishment District isn’t the only authority in Southern California making moves toward water reuse and recycling. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has announced a much larger project it hopes to build at a cost of $1 billion. That plant, whose timeline is further off in the future, would be large enough to treat as much as 168,000 acre-feet of water annually. That would be enough water for 335,000 households each year, whereas the Pico Rivera plant will supply water for around 42,000 households.