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.