The La Canada Flintridge City Council voted 4-1 Monday night to negotiate the purchase of sewer capacity from the city of Glendale.
The action could be the first step in the city's partial conversion from reliance on septic tanks to joining the Los Angeles sewage system. It promises to be controversial because of the cost and opposition in some quarters to development, Mayor Pro Tem Chris Valente said.
The agreement authorized by the council would allow 87 properties in La Canada Flintridge to be served immediately. The capacity would increase by nearly nine times in the coming seven years.
"It's a kind of investment," Valente said. "We felt that we might not have the opportunity to buy into this later on."
All but 6% of city residents and businesses now use private waste-disposal systems. La Canada Flintridge officials must now gauge community support for the project, since the city would have to pay for any unused capacity.
So far, 13 businesses and residents in La Canada Flintridge have expressed interest in using the Glendale sewer system, Chapman said.
The proposal, which also would need Glendale City Council approval, calls for La Canada Flintridge to buy 0.09 cubic feet per second of sewer capacity for $242,500 a year. The city would then be expected to purchase additional capacity for $2,838,000 per year within a seven-year period, according to a staff report.
Technically, Glendale would sell La Canada Flintridge some of its right to dump sewage into the Los Angeles system. The sewage would run through the Crescenta Valley County Water District to the Hyperion Plant near the Santa Monica Bay. Under the agreement, La Canada Flintridge would be billed for its share of capital improvements to the Hyperion Plant.
The projected cost of using the system ranges from about $8,000 for a small home to $70,000 for a large business, according to Chapman.
The city decided to reconsider the introduction of a sewer system after the Foothill Car Wash was ordered in July by the Regional Water Quality Control Board to stop dumping rinse water into a storm drain, Chapman said.
Since the car wash can't be hooked up to the Crescenta Valley County Water District sewer system, it will be forced to close if it does not find an alternative disposal system.
Meetings between the governments of La Canada Flintridge and Glendale have taken place since the city of Glendale first proposed the selling of sewer capacity to La Canada Flintridge in 1981.
The proposal eight years ago allowed for the sale of 0.9 cubic feet per second for a cost of just under $1 million. In the current proposal that same amount has an asking price of more than $3 million.