LAX Runoff No Longer Headed to SM Bay


Authorities Thursday announced two separate drainage systems would be built underground to capture runoff from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

“Right now, when it rains — and it does still rain occasionally in this city — that pollution is washed out, untreated to Santa Monica Bay,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti told CBS2/KCAL9’s Adrianna Weingold.

Around 12 p.m., a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) and the Los Angeles City Bureau of Sanitation to establish development of the Argo Drain Sub-Basin facility. The new facilities will help contribute to LAWA’s compliance with federal, state and local regulatory requirements associated with the Clean Water Act. It’s the latest effort by officials to reduce waste as California continues to struggle with an epic drought.

Officials explained the systems are designed to help manage storm water runoff flows in and around LAX, in addition to helping buffer drought impacts. Millions of gallons of dirty water that currently washes into the ocean will now be captured, cleaned and reused.

“The ocean is the last place I’ve see that needs more water. It’s probably the only place that doesn’t need water, so we can use that,” the mayor said.

Sarah Sikich, vice president of Heal the Bay, says the $40-million storm water treatment project is good for the environment and good for the economy. She says it will help reduce pollution and bacteria at local beaches, while replenishing the area’s aquifers.

“Summer is coming and no one should ever get sick from going to the beach, it should be a place where we are enhancing our well-being, not be afraid that we might suffer from going to the beach,” Sikich said.

Garcetti says 60 percent of total daily water use washes into the ocean untreated. The new facility will capture runoff from LAX to recharge the groundwater basin. Airport officials said they expect to save about $40 million through the implementation of this project.

“We’ll see 100 million gallons of rain and storm runoff that will now be going back into the ground where we can use it in the future,” the mayor said. “It’s cleaned up naturally by nature and something we can sustain ourselves with during the drought.”

The project will take four years to complete, according to officials.

Garcetti says he’s working on other similar projects across the city to capture, treat and reuse urban runoff.


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