The L.A. River – when “wasted” water isn’t wasted

It seems like a no brainer.

Stop wasting that water! Put it to good use! But when we’re talking about things like lining irrigation canals (see for exmample the All-American Canal saga, pdf here) or cleaning up and re-using sewage, it’s critical to ask the question: If we don’t do this, where will that water end up?

Two city agencies are drafting a new proposal to purify treated sewage and refill the groundwater basin, where wells would pump it up, eventually leading to the taps of homes and businesses.

Right now that very same treated water that used to be sewage flows into the Los Angeles River from a Van Nuys plant. Under this new plan, much of it would instead be pumped into the ground, leaving the river’s water levels substantially lower.

“Maybe 60 years from now we won’t be kayaking on the river,” said Council for Watershed Health program director Mike Antos, who leads the Los Angeles Basin Water Augmentation Study.

“We’ll be mountain biking.”

That’s Mike Reicher in a smart story in the L.A. Daily News looking at the dilemma of sewage reuse in Los Angeles.

The value of steps like lining an irrigation canal or reusing sewage depends entirely on where the “wasted” water was ending up before we tried to fix whatever problem it is we think we’re fixing.