Elysian Valley wants recycled water pipe put someplace else

Dorris Place Elementary

The recycled water pipeline would be installed under the street in front of Dorris Place Elementary

ELYSIAN VALLEY ––  A proposal to build a two-mile-long pipeline to bring and irrigate Elysian Park with recycled water seems like a good idea in a time of severe drought.  Installing that pipeline, however, would require digging up the streets of Elysian Valley as well as the popular L.A. River path, triggering opposition among residents, some of whom want the pipe rerouted to avoid the “mess” of construction.

Under preliminary plans, the 16-inch wide pipe will travel across a bridge over the L.A. River,  under the streets of Elysian Valley and then through a tunnel bored under the 5 Freeway before reaching Elysian Park.  The pipeline will be connected to the  DWP’s Purple Pipe Network , which distributes recycled water.

In a meeting earlier this week,  Elysian Valley residents packed the auditorium of Dorris Place Elementary to hear a presentation by L.A. DWP officials who are designing the pipeline, which is still years away from being built. Officials said they would take numerous precautions to shield residents from the noise, dust and disruptions caused by digging up the streets. They pledged to work outside Dorris Place Elementary during the summer break when students were away.  It normally takes crews about a day to install 40 feet of pipe, so construction at any one point would be over relatively quickly.

But many Elysian Valley residents were not convinced.

One woman was worried about the impact the construction dust would have on her asthma.  Others worried that unforeseen problems could leave the neighborhood mired in construction. The principal of the school worried about construction delays and construction noise.  “How do we protect the children, their lungs,” said Principal Susan Schmidt.

While agency officials said the route through Elysian Valley is the most direct to Elysian Park,  residents recommended that L.A. DWP consider a less direct route to spare them the neighborhood. “Think about the …. people who will live with this mess,” said one man.

Water officials emphasized that increasing the use of recycled water would benefit residents and ratepayers citywide. But many in the audience didn’t see any benefit for Elysian Valley, which some say has already had to put up with with a long list of public works projects, ranging from the ongoing replacement of the Figueroa-Riverside Bridge to the building of the 5 Freeway decades ago. “Why is the city always picking on us,” said one man.

DWP officials stressed that the pipeline route is only preliminary and subject to change. They also indicated they would consider giving the public more time to comment on a draft environmental impact report beyond the current May 8 deadline.

“Nothing is set in stone,” said Irene Paul, a DWP officials, told the audience.

A public meeting about the Elysian Park-Downtown Water Recycling Projects and the draft environmental report will be held tonight, April 23, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Grace Simons Lodge in Elysian Park, 1025 Elysian Park Drive.

Click here to download the draft environmental impact report.


  1. Please attend the official EIR public comment meeting tonight at 6:30. Grace Simons Lodge

    There’s no reason this pipe should be trenched 30ft from classrooms and our historic building (eligible for the National Register). They can take it up the road near Figueroa– Few residents, no contaminated groundwater, no bike path intrusion.

    This shorter and cheaper route acts to load environmental burdens on the community while it provides zero benefits.

    ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE for the Elysian Valley!

    • HEADLINE! Outsiders and gadflies misinform Elysian Valley residents by spinning conspiracy stories that play on the fears of those who experienced the 5 freeway cutting up the neighborhood and the displacements of Chavez Ravine. This reclaimed water pipe is not an oppressive government action or heavy environmental burden.

      The pipeline in question will carry reclaimed water for irrigating our local gem, Elysian Park. The project brings long term environmental benefits for the City and help to keep water rates lower for all by using cheaper reclaimed water for park irrigation. It will have minimal and temporary environmental impacts. The 16″ pipe requires a small trench of not more than 3′ wide and 5′ deep. This is fast and easy work and DWP is bending over backwards to mitigate the small impacts. Many other things- leaf-blowers, freeway and even local car traffic- have far more adverse and long last environmental impacts.

      Ineffective neighborhoods spend a lot of time hollering and yelling. Effective neighborhoods study the issues and negotiate for the best outcomes while also angling for local benefits. For instance, maybe DWP might be willing to assist development of some local public landscaping or demonstration irrigation project with some of the water.

      Come on Elysian Valley, let’s start living up to our reputation as a creative and caring community by pushing back against the self-promoting naysayers who are harming rather than protecting the local community.

      • @RiverLocalism We are asking to move it over, not make it go away.

        Rooms full of locals, parents of children at Dorris place, speaking out in concern for their school and community— those are self-promoting naysayers?

        Belittling the “ineffective” public for daring to participate in meetings that affect their community?
        And, after such poor outreach?

        The school never received a notice, ever. The April EVRNC board meeting was the first time the NC board members had ever heard of the project.

        Now you’d like us to be quiet, cooperate and not ask questions in exchange for “gifts”?

        Let’s let LADWP address the community’s concerns and review the alternative pathways. Let the PUBLIC process play out.

        • The self promoting naysayers are people who go from neighborhood to neighborhood with lawyers in tow and create conflict rather that work for constructive good of the City. That residents fears can be manipulated by people who have verbal command of some acronyms is not evidence of there being any an actual issue.

          Move it over? To where? Another resident’s street? And at what additional cost to the City and the taxpayers? This environmentally beneficial project benefits all residents.

          Pipes these size are routinely installed in the City without significant adverse impacts. To claim otherwise is not factual. DWP is scheduling to do the job when school is not in session. This is NYBYism run amok- except for the fact that those making the biggest stink don’t even live in Elysian Valley.

    • Zero benefits? I’m sorry, but with no snow melt (ZERO) and nearly empty aquifers, and that dust bowl known as Owens Valley, we’ve drunk up all the water. If you actually cared about your children and their future, you’d be demanding we recycle 100% of our water, and not just for parks.

      Thanks for ensuring the imminent demise of Los Angeles as a viable place to live by trying to stop the very sort of public works projects we so desperately need.

  2. “How do we protect our children’s lungs?”

    Move out of LA

    • I am astounded that anyone could ever, ever have thought that putting this pipeline project in front of an elementary school – for FOUR years – was a good idea. To be clear – I am not against the pipeline concept itself. Even though this project will have no direct benefit to our EV community (water will be fed into Elysian Park and EV residents will never see a drop of this water), I respect the intention of the project to benefit the city at large, esp. during this drought. However, it feels like our community is being treated as expendable. It is unacceptable to subject our children to the repercussions this construction will bring – from poor air quality to the impacts on their education and to their school being compromised. It is not OK to dismiss the strain this will put on the health of our senior residents. And even if LA DWP is able to fulfill their promise of limiting the project to a month during summer – Dorris Place still has summer school. Hard working parents in this neighborhood do not have other options for their children during the summer. And there are still frail seniors living across the street from the school. They need to find an alternate route for this pipeline.

      • The section of the pipeline in front of the school would only take a few days to complete, according DWP. The entire pipeline project, which includes new tanks, pumping station and pipe in Elysian Park, would take a total of four years to build.

        • I have to say the math in the DEIR doesn’t match statements made verbally. The bike path portion that is 700 feet long will be shut down for 60 days according to LADWPs study. So, that’s about 12 feet per day, not the 40 they claimed at the meeting.

          Also, these are best case scenarios. At Ivanhoe they said it would be 3 months and it went 8. They don’t know what they will run into since they don’t have good maps of older utilities under the street. In other words they are going in nearly blind and promising things based on guesses. Oy vey!

      • There are pipelines in front of every school (sewer, water, gas). All will have to get replaced eventually.

      • No benefit?!?! Actually, they told us it will give us (all of LADWP’s fresh water customers) an extra 2700 acre/ft of potable water per year. The LADWP spokesman stated an average household uses 1 acre/ft per year, but an LA Times reporter told me it’s more like half an acre/ft. Soooo that means 2700 households (more like 5,000+ if they’re in apartments and not houses with lawns) will have a year’s worth of water every year this system is working. That means you and 2700 of your friends (or more of them, if they don’t have stupid lawns) will be able to live in LA a little longer. YOU’RE WELCOME.

    • haha! seriously.

      A few months after moving to Frogtown, from DTLA where I never opened the windows, I found myself feeling weaker. I started to wonder how much of an impact having the windows open living half a block from the 5 was having on my health.

      If you live in Frogtown, by all means DO NOT GOOGLE “Health effects of living next to a freeway”. Ignorance is bliss. But if you MUST know, here’s a tasty bit from the LA Times…


  3. “Under preliminary plans, the 16-inch wide pipe will travel across a bridge over the L.A. River”

    Call me crazy but why not install a bigger pipe now so you don’t have to dig it up and and re-bury it when it suddenly needs to be 32 inches in 2020?

  4. I previously thought recycled water for irrigation was a good idea. I have very much changed my mind, and I see serious issues in using this for irrigation in this area.

    Expert and DWP reports recommend using recycled water for irrigation.Fine. But at the same time, they say grey water is not safe for use as potable, drinking water. I’m afraid these two points have been looked at separately, not together.

    In LA, a LOT of our drinking water comes from underground. But if you irrigate with grey water, that goes straight down to the underground water table, where we get a LOT of our drinking water. Other areas that don’t use underground water for drinking water might be suitable for using grey water for irrigation. But LA will be polluting our drinking water source with grey water if we use it for irrigation. We can’t have it both ways. If we use this grey water for irrigation, we simply have to stop using underground water for our drinking water supply; or, don’t use grey water for irrigation.

    In fact, I fear the city is doing this to quietly serve us grey water out of the tap without acknowledging it, something the public would never accept if it were done above board.

    It doesn’t matter if it has been treated. Gee, even the DWP reports say that nonetheless, it is not suitable for drinking. In fact, it is not even necessarily water – it is everything from your sewer pipe, most especially what you flush down the toilet, and that liquid is not necessarily water, if you catch my drift. If you want to drink urine, go ahead, but don’t put it in my drinking water supply and in super-concentration. And the ungodly amount of chemicals to kill off all the bacteria and other issues in toilet water and other sewage water is not a plus either. I don’t want to drink a glass full of chlorine or other chemicals.

    Mind you, there is a huge difference between what waste from animals in the wild gets into water and the enormously, exponentially greater concentration of it from your sewer system. That huge difference in concentration makes a huge difference.

    We need water in LA – or actually, we only need more water in order to build more, more, more and try everything we can get attract more and more people to move here. This is not acceptable. We need to lay low, not even let the world realize LA exists. We need to stop at this level and manage what we have,not continue to push more the world to come here,build, and continue with this ponzi scheme of endless growth. This grey water is not being used for the benefit of the people here now; it is being used in order to justify attracting ever more people here.

    • Grey water and reclaimed water are not the same thing. Grey water is untreated household water that has been used for laundry, dish washing, showers, etc. (everything but toilets, which is black water). Reclaimed water is municipally treated water, in this case water that has been treated to tertiary levels, which is exceedingly close to drinking level standards. It is safe to use on all landscape plants, including many edible crops.

      As for contamination of groundwater, percolation through bedrock into the aquifer is the final stage in the water purification process for many water departments (all water is reclaimed water, by the way — they’re not making any new stuff), and is precisely what is proposed for the recharging of the aquifer in the northeast San Fernando Valley. Far from contaminating the water supply, irrigation using reclaimed water will only increase and improve our local water supply.

  5. I strongly oppose the proposed Elysian Park Water Recycling Project on Dorris Place. The project would further impact the quality of life for community members. As it is, the residents on Dorris Place already contend with high volume activities related to Dorris Place Elementary School and two City facilities – the Department of General Services, Material Testing (Standards) Lab and the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Sanitation, Wastewater Collection Systems Division’s North District office.

    The school’s daily operations generate noise from leaf blowers, alarms, bells, PA system, traffic and parking issues. There is also the issue of filming on Dorris Place. How many times over the years have the residents been prohibited to park on the street or not permitted access to their own house because of the closure of the street for filming? Imagine filming on weekdays, weeknights, and weekends, month after month, year after year in your neighborhood! Since the beginning of this year (2015) to date, there have been seven (7) filming notifications with different companies often filming on the heels of one after another on Dorris Place. Just yesterday, 6/16/15, yet another film company came knocking on the doors of the Dorris Place residents.

    The 24-hour, 7 days a week operations of the Bureau of Sanitation’s heavy trucks generate noise and vibrations that are heard and felt as these vehicles roar up and down Dorris Place and the adjacent streets every single day. At the end of the day, the school shuts down and all personnel, students, and parents go home. City employees go home. It is the residents that must bear the brunt of the cumulative effect of these activities on a daily basis. This project would be another added impact that the residents do not need.

    Both the school and residents have health, environmental, and safety concerns over the proposed project. Neither the school nor the residents want the excessive noise and vibrations from the jack hammering, trenching and tunneling operations and from the heavy construction equipment. I do not want to breathe the fallout of toxins and dust particles from the debris that is excavated. I do not want the street closed. I do not want parking or access to the school and my driveway blocked. I do not want my utility services disrupted or shut off. I do not want my property damaged. I do not want infrastructure damaged. Look what happened on May 16, 2015, when a LADWP backhoe punctured a gas line on Hollywood and Cahuenga. The surrounding neighborhood and businesses had to be evacuated. In fact, at the May 7, 2015, Community Meeting held at Dorris Place Elementary School, the community raised the question about property damage and LADWP representatives suggested filing a claim if there is damage to our property. There are no assurances and we all know the difficult and lengthy process involved when a claim is filed against the City. Furthermore, I do not want Dorris Place, a concrete street, to be cut or torn up. The City does not resurface concrete streets. Simply backfilling the trench leads to deterioration of the pavement over time due to the high traffic volume and heavy load from the City trucks that traverse the residential streets. This type of replacement is completely unacceptable.

    LADWP representatives at the Community Meeting indicated that if the project is approved, they hope to start construction in the summer of 2016 when the majority of the students are off on summer break. What consideration is being given to the residents? The recycled water is for Elysian Park; it is certainly not for the local community’s use and it does not benefit the neighborhood. LADWP must consider an alternate alignment for the project.

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