In the 1990s, the Terminal Island Treatment Plant went through an extraordinary transformation. The City installed one of the world’s most technologically advanced water reclamation treatment systems at its plant in the Los Angeles Harbor.
The need for this advanced system emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Department of Public Works was grappling with a decision of whether or not to construct a new, conventional deep-water ocean outfall to discharge Terminal Island’s secondary effluent outside the Los Angeles Harbor, or to try something completely "outside of the box".
In 1995, the Departments of Public Works, Water and Power, Environmental Affairs, Recreation and Parks and the Harbor Department agreed to develop a facility that would include microfiltration followed by reverse osmosis technology. Construction is nearly complete on the $23 million project. The microfiltration element began operating in summer 2001 and the reverse osmosis facility will be on-line by 2002. When the new facility is in full operation, it will be capable of processing 4.5 MGD. The Department is considering a second phase of this facility that would more than double that capacity.
One of the highest beneficial uses planned for the water is to inject potable water into the seawater barrier in the Dominguez Gap. Department of Health Services required the effluent planned for injection into the seawater barrier to meet all Title 22 water quality standards for potable (drinking) water with additional requirements for oxidation, filtration, disinfection, and other health protection.
The Department is pleased to report that pilot studies show that reverse osmosis effluent will meet these extremely high standards and will be suitable not only for injecting into underground basins but also as valuable boiler feed water for local industries.
The Terminal Island Treatment Plant was built in 1935 and upgraded in 1976, 1981, and 1997. It is located 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, and treats wastewater for the heavily industrialized Terminal Island in the Los Angeles Harbor area plus the communities of Wilmington, San Pedro, and a portion of Harbor City.
The plant’s capacity is 30 MGD. It discharges an average of 16 MGD through a 60-inch diameter outfall in the harbor In peak wet weather, Terminal Island Treatment Plant can handle 45 MGD.
Heavy industrial uses are common in Terminal Island, including oil wells, docking and storage facilities, and petroleum refining. However, residential communities, tourist attractions, canneries, a prison, the Coast Guard, petroleum refining, and federal facilities all contribute to the challenge of treating both domestic and industrial sewage.