Nonbusiness properties

What about nonbusiness properties? Is there really zero pollution in the runoff from the parking lots at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles City Hall and Los Angeles International Airport? How about streets and freeways? If we are after results, shouldn’t these potential pollution sources also be tested and treated? If preventing runoff pollution is important, then the runoff from all types of property should be considered!

Trying to treat the runoff from each business property, on each property, only when it is raining is ridiculous. It would be far better to have bulk or regional treatment of water from storm drains. The economics of treating water are well established. We don’t build separate sewage treatment plants on each property; we gather the effluent and treat it in large plants. This is because of a principle of economics called “economy of scale.”

Also, treating runoff water only when it is raining is almost impossible. Does anyone really imagine that every property owner will be able to keep the equipment instantly ready to work and that it will operate correctly when it rains? It does not rain much in Los Angeles, but when it does, it rains hard and fast. Most of the time the equipment will sit around doing nothing (a recipe for breakdowns) and then it will be overwhelmed by the rate of flow. What about operating personnel? Are they going to be available any time – I repeat, any time – it rains?

A better idea would be to use partially treated water (toilet to tap for example) to flush runoff from property and storm drains into processing plants on a regular basis. Engineers already design plants for that and the treatment would be far more effective than treating only rain water during storms. Since that kind of water flush would be planned, the equipment can be operated by trained personnel without excessive overtime.

So a little thinking big. Treat waste water and use it to flush storm drains. Build that distribution infrastructure. Divert the storm drain water and treat it in regional plants. Build those plants. Mitigate all sources of pollution with measures that work – not just measures that poll well. Create and implement those measures.

I’ll close with my opening: Is this about results or is this about power?

Mike Paik is an engineer in Montebello.

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