Our settlement will require Glendale to assess flow impacts as it considers recycling more and discharging less water into the LA River
Did you know
the water that flows year-round through the Los Angeles River is treated wastewater discharged from 3 plants in Glendale, Burbank, and LA? These plants collect sewage and
clean it to a point that it can be safely discharged back into the River.
When we heard that Glendale wanted to enhance water recycling at their upstream wastewater facility, we had mixed feelings. On one hand, recycling wastewater is a good thing that can reduce dependence on imports. On the other, recycling water upstream can dramatically impact river flows, which can significantly affect water quality and marine life. But the truth is, we don't know what the optimal flows are in our Los Angeles River, because it has yet to be studied!
Through the regulatory appeals process, we got the State Water Board to fund flow studies for the LA River, which will inform everyone how much water is safe to divert for recycling. However, Glendale started moving forward to amp up recycling before these studies were complete, and without publishing an Environmental Impact Report to assess possible impacts to the River. We sued over CEQA violations, and at the end of 2018, we were able to work with Glendale to reach a very positive settlement. The City agreed to a longer timeline for enhancing their recycling program, thus slowing down diversions from the River until the flows study can be completed.
LAW will continue to campaign for more research on the health of the Los Angeles River, so we can make informed decisions about wastewater reclamation that balance our need for local water supplies and the ecological integrity of our namesake waterway.