“Going Green” with Gravity

Here in the City of Los Angeles’ Stormwater Program, we talk a lot about clean water being a team effort. From city-sponsored projects to local residents and businesses, we stress the importance of everyone pitching in to attain the goal of clean water in our local rivers, creeks, lakes and beaches. So, you can imagine our delight when Mother Nature did her part to assist with the City’s low flow diversion program.

The City has experienced a lot of success with its low flow diversion program, which began in the late 1990s. Today 23 underground low flow diversion projects dot the Santa Monica Bay coast, quietly diverting hundreds of thousands of gallons of polluted urban runoff to the sanitary sewer system during the dry summer months. In fact these low flow diversions have been so instrumental in improving water quality that Heal the Bay noted in their 2007 Beach Report that low flow diversion projects resulted in long stretches of beaches in the Southland receiving consistently good grades. This recognition was a first in Heal the Bay’s history.

Now, with the Downtown Los Angeles Low Flow Diversion Project, the low flow diversion program is moving inland to the Los Angeles River, with City officials breaking ground last week on this $735,000 project. Undertaken in connection with the settlement agreement of two Clean Water Act enforcement actions (Santa Monica Baykeeper v. City of Los Angeles and United States and State of California ex Rel. California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Los Angeles Region v. City of Los Angeles), this project will divert urban runoff  from 440 acres of industrial and commercial area to the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant during year-round dry weather reducing the amount of trash, bacteria and metal pollution in the Los Angeles River and assisting the City comply with federal water quality mandates.

Coastline low flow diversion projects have always had to use an elaborate electrical pump system to generate the force necessary to divert the polluted flow to the sanitary sewer system. With this project, Mother Nature lends a helping hand. Simple gravity takes the place of pumps and will be the force used in diverting the contaminated runoff to the sanitary sewer system creating a true “green” low flow diversion – the first of its kind in Los Angeles.

This low flow diversion joins a true pioneer in the City’s low flow diversion program. For almost a decade now, the City’s first low flow diversion project in the downtown area, located at the Los Angeles River’s 8th Street outlet, has been working to remove pollutants from 1,000 acres of area that include food processing, commercial and transportation-related businesses. Now these two sister projects, located less than a mile from each other, will join forces to improve water quality in one of LA’s historic and significant waterways.

LA’s goal of clean water will continue to be a team effort on the part of everyone here in the Southland. Step by step, project by project, we get closer every day to our goal of cleaner creeks, lakes, rivers and beaches. And, when you’re working so hard towards a goal, it’s always nice to get help from your mother – Thanks, Mom!

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Comments (2)

  1. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Stormwater control
    November 8th, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Its nice to see projects like this go underway in big cities like LA. Hopefully, they will figure out something so there isn’t a huge drought in the next few years (or decades).
    -Jack

    • Avatar for LA Stormwater
      LA Stormwater
      November 9th, 2010 at 12:01 pm

      Hi Jack! The Downtown Los Angeles Low Flow Diversion Project will divert urban runoff from 440 acres of industrial and commercial area to the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant during year-round dry weather reducing the amount of trash, bacteria and metal pollution in the Los Angeles River. LA’s goal of clean water will continue to be a team effort on the part of everyone here in the Southland! So remember, you can prevent pollution and conserve water by harvesting rain water and implementing low impact development practices.

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