Outta Sight

We all have that one colleague who works tirelessly to make a project better than average but shuns the limelight and, therefore, often times receives little recognition for their dedication and hard work. For Santa Monica Bay beaches, low flow diversions are those unsung heroes.

As Heal the Bay releases its annual beach report card this week, it’s easy to focus on the improved quality of the shimmering waves crashing onto Will Rogers State Beach or the families frolicking on the shore at Santa Monica State Beach. This year, as we gear up for another season of summer fun, we’re shining the focus on low flow diversions. They are, quite literally, the underground heroes that work tirelessly to stop inland pollution from reaching Santa Monica Bay and are a primary reason so many Los Angeles-area beaches receive top grades.

Low flow diversions are very simple in their concept but they reap myriad rewards for LA’s local beaches. Low flow diversions simply re-route polluted urban runoff from storm drain channels into the sanitary sewer system where it gets treated and cleaned at Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant. Once cleaned, the water either gets recycled for landscape irrigation or discharged into Santa Monica Bay, five miles off shore. Proposition O recently funded the upgrade of seven pre-existing low flow diversions to increase their pumping capacity. This upgrade will not only allow for the diversion of polluted flow during dry winter months but will also improve the reliability of the low flow diversions. Additionally the low flow diversion in Santa Monica Canyon is due to come online in Santa Monica Canyon soon. The completion of the Central Intercept Relief Sewer is making this possible. Santa Monica Canyon’s new low flow diversion will have the potential to divert 86,400 gallons of polluted urban runoff every day. Wow!

Every year, Santa Monica Bay’s 23 low flow diversions reroute hundreds of millions of gallons of polluted urban runoff to Hyperion. That’s enough polluted runoff to fill the Rose Bowl half a dozen times! LA’s low flow diversions may be out of sight, but for improving LA’s beaches, they’re also outta sight.

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