Water recycling system will save as much as 108,000 gallons a day

By Gary Walker

A city water bond approved by voters 12 years ago is funding an underground storm water recycling system that sanitation officials say will generate enough water to meet the irrigation needs of Penmar Park and Penmar Golf Course — as much as 108,000 gallons a day.

Back in 2011, city officials and environmental nonprofits unveiled a rainwater-harvesting project at Penmar designed to collect 3 million gallons of rainwater to be used for irrigation.

This second stage of the project, unveiled by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti during a June 30 press conference at the park, will do even more by adding a disinfecting, filtration and testing system.

“The first stage did a good job of keeping the dirt out of the ocean. But now we’re going a step further by making sure that the water can be used on site,” Garcetti said. “Before, it would drip back into the aquifer and couldn’t fully be used by the park. We’re saying rain that falls in Penmar should be used in Penmar, and it should be clean water, not dirty water.”

The treated storm water will replace potable water being used to irrigate the golf course and park, resulting in the 108,000-gallon daily savings, Bureau of Sanitation spokeswoman Heather Johnson said.

That’s roughly the daily water usage of 1,000 Angelenos.

“Demand will vary based on weather and watering needs at the park, and 108,000 is the average water demand for Penmar Park and Penmar Golf Course.  At the peak of demand, the park and golf course can use up to 200,000 gallons per day,” Johnson said.

Water generated by the new filtration system will also irrigate adjacent Marine Park in Santa Monica, according to the mayor’s office.

The Penmar Park Water Quality Improvement Project is part of a series of programs funded by Proposition O, a 2004 water bond measure that funds clean water projects up to $500 million to help meet federal Clean Water Act regulations.

“Voters around the city have said they want clean, drinkable water, and that’s essentially what this does and what Prop O is doing,” said Garcetti, who was one of the authors of Proposition O.

The new storm water recycling system will take about 18 months to complete.

L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents Venice and also attended the press conference, said the project is not only smart water policy but an example of good government.

“Prop. O is a shining example of how we can use voter investment of a ballot measure to deliver for Los Angeles and to make things better. If there’s anything that comes out of today, it should be a reminder that government does deliver when voters decide to partner with government,” Bonin said.

Garcetti spoke of the project’s multiple benefits.

“It’s never about just one thing. It’s definitely about clean water, but it’s also about a great park. It’s about a drought, but it’s also about a great golf course. And when you tie these things together, I think people understand that $1 can stretch to four or five if we use it in a multipurpose way,” he said.