Trying to address both the drought and the cleanup of Santa Monica Bay, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an agreement on Thursday finalizing an estimated $40 million storm water treatment project to clean polluted runoff from Los Angeles International Airport before it runs into the bay.
Some water from the project, about 100 million gallons a year, will also be diverted into a groundwater basin, recharging groundwater supplies.
“We must reimagine our relationship with water. We must be responsible with how we treat it, across its entire cycle,” Garcetti said in a statement. “We can no longer afford to let storm water run off as pollution into our ocean.”
The storm water facility will be built underground, and about $30 million of the $40 million project is being funded through Proposition O, which L.A. city voters approved in 2004.
Maria Mehranian, a member of the State Water Quality Control Board, said the storm water treatment project is vital to the city.
“I think storm water is the next great water supply,” said Mehranian, who is also managing partner at Chinatown engineering firm Cordoba Corp. “Storm water is so much more cost effective.”
Runoff from LAX is now being sent untreated into the Pacific Ocean, but as a result of the new facility, storm water from LAX will be sent to the nearby Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant or pumped underground, according to Garcetti’s office.
Sarah Sikich, vice president of Heal the Bay, said the project has been a long time coming and is badly needed.
“Summer’s coming, and no one should get sick from going to the beach,” Sikich said. “It will keep our rivers, creeks and our coastline free from trash, bacteria, metal and other toxins.”
The project is also a win-win for local companies, according to the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
“Clean water and clean oceans are good for our economy and good for business,” Ruben Gonzalez, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce’s senior vice president for public policy and political affairs, said. “Clean oceans and beaches increase tourism which is one of the major engines of our local economy.”
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