L.A. Wants to Spend $8 Billion to Recycle All of Its Wastewater by 2035

The City of Los Angeles is considering a wastewater reclamation project that could end up supplying one-third of the city’s water by 2035.

In a city that’s well known for importing most of its water supply, Mayor Eric Garcetti is hoping to reduce the city’s purchase of imported water by 50% by 2025.

The proposed $8 billion, 16-year project calls for a variety of equipment upgrades at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant as well as new groundwater wells and construction of a 15-mile pipeline.

“It’s a bold move by the city,” said Mark Gold, UCLA’s associate vice chancellor for environment and sustainability. “But if you look at water planning going back to the early [aughts], there’s been talk about this. This is not a new concept.”

Mayor Garcetti has promised that the city will be recycling all of its wastewater by 2035 and the amount of recycled water could provide 35% of all of L.A.’s water if used to replenish local groundwater reserves.

Aside from the financial and technical challenges of this plan, the residents of L.A. have opposed past improvement projects.  In 2001, they voted down a similar city project that would have recharged the San Fernando Valley aquifer with treated sewage water.

City officials are optimistic, however, that years of city water issues - as well as other successful projects - may have softened opposition.

The Hyperion plant is the central component of the project. Currently the plant processes 81% of the city’s sewage or about 260 million gallons per day. The plant only recycles about 25% of the water that passes through it with the mayor’s plan increasing that to 100% over the next 16 years. -UC

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