The final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a proposed new dual force sewer line from the Venice Pumping Plant connecting to the Hyperion Treatment Plant in Playa del Rey has been submitted to the Los Angeles City Council Public Works Committee for review and approval.
Once approved, the project moves on to the Los Angeles City Council for review and a vote.
Project manager Sean Zahedi and environmental supervisor Jim Doty presented the project to the Los Angeles County Small Craft Harbor Commission Wednesday, November 12th, at the Burton Chace Park Community Building in Marina del Rey.
The project was presented as an informational item only, since it’s not within the purview of the Small Craft Harbor Commission to make any decisions on the project.
Zahedi and Doty had also presented the project on an informational basis to the Los Angeles County Marina del Rey Design Control Board in early May.
Permission from Los Angeles County must be obtained by the City of Los Angeles, since the preferred path for the proposed project would be beneath Via Marina and Marquesas Way — county-owned, unincorporated land — and under the Marina del Rey Channel and Ballona Creek, joining up with a pipeline to the Hyperion Treatment Plant at Waterview Street and Vista del Mar Lane in Playa del Rey.
The project would take approximately 11 months to complete at a cost of $47 to $54 million.
Attendees of the meeting and local residents said they had not heard anything about the project prior to this and were upset that the City of Los Angeles would choose this particular route for the pipeline for a new dual force sewer line when the original pipeline — now 50 years old — runs underground along Venice Beach.
The official notice of preparation for the project and for public comment was May 24th, 2005, and that meeting was held in the Westchester Municipal Building Community Room adjacent to what is now the office of Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the 11th Council District.
There were three separate routes studied for the new pipeline, but Zahedi said that the California Coastal Commission would probably oppose the project being built on the beach, since environmental standards are higher than they were when the original pipeline was built.
The project requires a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well, and Zahedi said he has been in contact with them.
Zahedi said they would have to apply for a permit to the California Coastal Commission for the project regardless of which route is used.
Zahedi did say that Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors did not seem to favor the preferred project and had not yet signed off on any documentation.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION — The proposed project involves the construction of a new 54-inch-diameter force main sewer that would cross Grand Canal from the Venice Pumping Plant at 140 Hurricane St. easterly to Marquesas Way, then continue southerly along Via Marina, crossing the Marina del Rey and Ballona Creek Channels to an existing coastal interceptor sewer junction structure on Vista del Mar Lane near Waterview Street.
This alignment is approximately 10,400 feet long.
The new force main would operate as a parallel system in conjunction with the existing 48-inch force main, which runs along the beach, to meet current peak wet weather flows, and to add operational flexibility and reliability, with construction tentatively set for August 2010, said Zahedi.
Zahedi said that the new force main is needed because during severe wet weather, peak flows to the Venice Pumping Plant have exceeded the capacity of the old existing force main that carries wastewater away from the plant, with a risk of spilling onto city streets and surface waters.
Because the existing sewer line carries all of the wastewater away from the plant and is in constant use, there is no way to inspect the pipeline for leaks or corrosion or shut it down for inspection and maintenance.
The proposed construction method is microtunneling, with the southern-most 1,300 feet requiring trenching. Microtunneling between pits spaced 800 to 1,000 feet apart reduces the extent of the impact, and through traffic would be maintained at all times — one lane in each direction — with minimal detours, Zahedi said.
He told the audience that the existing main sewer can handle only about 60 percent of the flows that could otherwise run through the Venice Pumping Plant when all five of its pumps are running at full speed.
When flows into the Venice Pumping Plant exceed flows out of the plant, levels at the plant rise and will overflow directly into Ballona Lagoon if the “exceedance” continues, he said. During the heavy storms experienced in the winters of 1994-1995 and 2004-2005, the excess at the plant came within minutes of overflowing into Ballona Lagoon.
Two other alternatives had been considered, and Zahedi said that no matter which is chosen, there would be traffic and construction disruption during the project.
One alternative was using Pacific Avenue, because there would be no easement costs, as it is within the City of Los Angeles right-of-way, it avoids the least tern colony, it is the shortest route in linear feet, and there are few utilities to disrupt on Pacific Avenue.
The negative aspect to that alternative, said Zahedi, is that there would be major transportation/ parking impacts, there would be difficulty in locating a working pit north of the channel, and there would be major opposition to the project by residents and businesses.
Placing the new pipeline alongside the existing one along the beach could prove to be a problem in case of a disaster such as a tsunami, which could possibly destroy both pipelines, Zahedi said.
One public speaker commented that, in case of such an emergency, the impact on the area in general would be so dramatic that the pipeline might be the last thing people worried about.
Other public comments included concerns about the disruption to residents and the fact that the continued development in the Marina doesn’t take into account the need for new sewer services.
The EIR meeting with the Public Works Committee was scheduled for Wednesday, November 19th, so the only other public input by local residents would be before the City Council when it hears the project, said Kerry Silverstrom, deputy director of the County Department of Beaches and Harbors, telling residents that they need to attend those meetings and make their concerns heard.