Three Events Tomorrow: Maps, Atwater Creek and Downtown Diversion

October 27, 2010 § 4 Comments

The Downtown Los Angeles Low Flow Diversion project which breaks ground tomorrow - click on image for more detail

Tomorrow – Thursday October 27th 2010 – is looking like a busy day for local creek freaks. There are two groundbreakings and a talk: Downtown Los Angeles Low Flow Diversion, North Atwater Park Expansion and Creek Restoration Project, and Los Angeles in Maps.

8am – Groundbreaking for the Downtown Los Angeles Low Flow Diversion project. This is one of those needed underground gizmo water quality projects – basically it will shunt polluted runoff into the sewers instead of stormdrains. The stormdrain flows directly untreated to the river; the sewer leads to a treatment plan. Meet at 8am at the northeast corner of Santa Fe Avenue and 7th Place in Downtown Los Angeles (very near the west end of the gorgeous 7th Street Bridge.) See this press advisory for additional information.

2pm – Groundbreaking for the North Atwater Creek restoration project. For information, see Creek Freak’s earlier post.

7pm – Central Library Los Angeles in Maps talk with Glen Creason and DJ Waldie. For information, see Creek Freak’s earlier post.

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§ 4 Responses to Three Events Tomorrow: Maps, Atwater Creek and Downtown Diversion

  • Charlie says:

    Wait, in Pittsburgh and a ton of other cities, we are running into horrible problems because stormwater goes into the sewer system, causing raw sewage to flow into rivers when the sewers are inevitably overwhelmed. We are spending lots of time and effort trying to get runoff OUT of the sewers! Why on Earth would you want to put runoff back IN???

    I know it is supposedly low flow only but it still seems like a step in the opposite direction from the one we should be heading towards!

    • Joe Linton says:

      In some older cities like Pittsburgh, there’s a combined sewer system, where 100% of stormwater and 100% of the sewage all go together into one system, which generally does get treated before being discharged into a waterway. Those systems then get easily overwhelmed during wet weather.

      In L.A. we have separate systems where 100% of sewage is treated (with few failures which are the exceptions), and 100% of stormwater is untreated. We generally have excess capacity in the sewer system, so during dry weather, we can send some of our minimal runoff (from people overwatering, washing cars, etc.) to our sewage treatment plants… though we do need to do it carefully to prevent it from ever overwhelming our sewage treatment capacity. This is already done for a number of smaller drainages (formerly actual creeks, now in pipes) mainly on the west side – so that prevents pollution from entering the Santa Monica Bay and its beaches, during peak summer usage.

  • Well, I know that sewage overflows DO happen in LA during heavy rains, even though the systems aren’t supposed to be connected… I guess leaks happen, or something.

    Still, unless it is possible to shut off ALL of the water going into the sewer during any storm, this just seems like a really bad idea still. I mean, maybe it is slightly better than dumping it right into waterways, but I’m skeptical.

  • Joe Linton says:

    O skeptical Charlie – sounds like I didn’t explain it well. This diversion project neither worsens nor helps the wet weather situation that you’re mentioning – which – you’re right – is caused by leaks. That’s another problem. This diversion project operates only during dry weather, and has a shut-off valve during wet weather. These dry weather diversions have been in place at various locations in L.A. for 5+years, and they’ve been shown to improve water quality during dry weather. The downtown project is the result of a lawsuit filed by Baykeeper and Heal the Bay… It’s good for water quality. Really.

    (My critique of these sorts of diversion projects is that they’re gray out-of-sight gizmos. They reinforce a misguided notion that if we build enough end-of-pipe treatments, we can pollute and pave all we want. I generally think that the better solutions are more visible – they reveal stormwater – and more green – they create habitat. Other good solutions involve source control – get at the cause, instead of treating the symptom. Nonetheless, this project will help keep some pollution from getting in the river.)

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