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City May Tap Into New Money Source: : Recycled Water

June 25, 1992|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Glendale has taken the first step in building a $16-million pipeline-expansion system that will reclaim more than 1 billion gallons of waste water a year now dumped into the ocean.

When completed in about three years, the pipeline system could deliver enough reclaimed water to match the equivalent of fresh tap water used by 6,000 households a year, city water services administrator Donald R. Froelich said.

The pipeline could eventually lead to the sale of treated waste water to the city of Pasadena and a variety of commercial users, putting Glendale into the business of recycling water.

The sale of treated sewage signals a trend among cities to turn costly tax-supported services into sources of new revenue. Glendale City Manager David Ramsay told a group of political and business leaders earlier this month that shrinking tax revenues are forcing cities "to become more entrepreneurial" by selling reclaimed water, electrical power and other public services.

Expansion of the reclamation system was begun June 18, when officials of the Oakmont Country Club signed an agreement to accept treated sewage--which meets the same bacterial standards as drinking water--to irrigate the 106-acre golf course in the Verdugo Woodlands area.

The pipeline to the country club, to be built in two years, could then be extended into northern Glendale and to Pasadena.

In addition to Oakmont, the pipeline will deliver irrigation water to the Scholl Canyon landfill, to Caltrans for freeway landscaping, to Glendale Community College and to other schools and parks along a six-mile route from south Glendale into the Verdugo Woodlands area, Froelich said.

A second expansion is planned from the city's power plant in west Glendale, which uses reclaimed water, north to the Grandview Memorial Park private cemetery and Brand Park.

The Verdugo Woodlands expansion would connect with another pipeline completed in February that delivers treated water to Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale. That line marked the first major commercial use of waste water in Glendale. Los Angeles eventually plans to extend the line to Elysian Park and possibly into downtown Los Angeles.

Glendale and Los Angeles have jointly owned and operated a water-reclamation plant on Colorado Street west of the Golden State Freeway since 1976. Treated water from the plant has been used for years to cool industrial equipment at Glendale's power-generation station near San Fernando Road and the Ventura Freeway.

The water also is used by Caltrans for landscaping along the Golden State Freeway and by Los Angeles to irrigate portions of Griffith Park. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on Tuesday began delivering reclaimed water from the plant to Forest Lawn in Hollywood Hills and other major irrigation users in Universal City.

Glendale has been negotiating with Pasadena for more than six months about the possibility of extending Glendale's reclaimed-water pipeline to Devil's Gate Reservoir, the Rose Bowl and the Arroyo Seco area. George Morrow, assistant general manager of the Pasadena Water and Power Department, said preliminary studies indicate Pasadena could save 12% of its tap water supply by importing waste water from Glendale.

"Reclaimed water is a resource of the future, and we should take advantage of what is available out there," Morrow said. The city expects to complete studies to determine the feasibility of tapping into Glendale's waste-water supply within two months.

If Pasadena joins the project, construction on a connection from the Verdugo Woodlands area into Pasadena could begin by January, 1996, Morrow said.

Cost estimates are not complete, but Glendale and Pasadena officials say a joint project would result in shared savings, not only on construction of the pipeline, but in the cost of buying water for irrigation. Large commercial users could also save money by purchasing waste water rather than drinking water for irrigation. And their purchases would provide new revenues to cities.

Even with Glendale's ambitious pipeline plan, less than half of the waste water discharged into the ocean would be used, Froelich said. Officials are looking at other potential uses, such as supplying treated water to downtown Los Angeles, where air-conditioning systems consume 5 million gallons of drinking water a day.

Under Glendale's agreement with Oakmont, the club will build a $250,000 pipeline system to irrigate the 18-hole golf course and keep treated sewage separate from the club's drinking water system, said club president Jack Hilts.

The club will pay 25% less for treated water than tap water, which will allow Oakmont to recover the cost of the new pipeline system within 10 years, Hilts said. Currently, Oakmont pays $175,000 a year for water.

Hilts said the system will reduce the demand on the city's supply of drinking water and ensure the club a steady supply of irrigation water to maintain the golf course. After five years of drought turned fairways brittle and the driving range brown last summer, Oakmont officials had pleaded for a 10% increase in their ration of Glendale's tap water supply.

"We came very close to losing the entire golf course," Hilts said. "It would have been an incredible loss."

He said the club paid more than $5,000 in fines for exceeding its allotment of water, but the loss of fairways and greens would have been far more costly to the 55-year-old club, which has 450 golf members, 190 social members and more than 100 employees.

"We paid the penalty," Hilts said. "Now it is important that we ensure we will have water to maintain the trees and the golf course. It is even more important that we make that much more potable water available to the city."

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