LADWP Water Waste Is ‘Apparent Contradiction’ With Conservation Message: Councilman

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Water flowed through streets near the Eagle Rock Reservoir on March 16, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

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Thousands of gallons of water that gushed through the streets of Eagle Rock marked an “apparent contradiction” in the city’s conservation message and its maintenance practices, a Los Angeles city councilman said in a motion calling for an explanation Wednesday.

Outraged over the loss of water that flowed from a pipe near the Eagle Rock Reservoir and into storm drains on Monday, Councilman Jose Huizar introduced a motion requiring LADWP to respond to the incident.

Under the motion, the Department of Water and Power would have to report back to the City Council on its methods of reducing water waste during standard maintenance and upgrades, and would have to consider the creation of plans to capture and reuse water that would otherwise be drained and flushed into the sea.

The motion comes two days after residents in Eagle Rock rushed into the street with buckets to try to gather thousands of gallons that were drained out of a corroded pipe.

After residents called the cascade hypocritical and wasteful, LADWP sent a top water official to the scene, along with a tanker truck to capture the flow.

About three-quarters of the 70,000 gallons that were drained were recaptured and were set to be treated and put back into the city’s water supply, a DWP official said.

Huizar, whose district includes Eagle Rock, said his motion was intended to have DWP create a policy “so this doesn’t happen in the future.”

The Eagle Rock Reservoir was dry on March 16, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)
The Eagle Rock Reservoir was dry on March 16, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

On Tuesday, LADWP said it had lost about 7 million gallons of water filled with sediment at the bottom of the Eagle Rock Reservoir, which was drained in recent weeks for upgrade work. The reservoir work is what prompted Monday’s water flow through Eagle Rock streets.

A spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti said that given California’s extreme drought, now entering its fourth year, the city needs to “do better.”

“We understand this is a complicated engineering challenge, but millions of gallons of water — maybe they’re not drinkable, but they can be used to water plants, they can be used for industrial uses,” said Garcetti spokesman Yusef Robb. “We have to get creative about our water use.”

Huizar motion noted the city’s calls for the public to cut water use, saying the “DWP’s practice of releasing water into the storm drain system is an apparent contraction to the city’s prioritization of water conservation.”

“It is essential that water waste be avoided and that the DWP address this practice immediately,” the motion stated.

Huizar introduced the motion to the council’s Energy and Environment Committee, which would have to vote on it at a later date before the full council could weigh in.

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