News Feature | July 28, 2017

With Newfound Water, Los Angeles Reboots Unused System

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

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Restoring unused infrastructure is at the heart of a plan by Los Angeles officials to bring more drinkable water to the region and ensure water security for years to come.

“An unused water system known as the Maclay Highline is being restored from the L.A. Aqueduct Cascades in Sylmar to a group of meadows in Pacoima as an innovative means to create more Los Angeles drinking water,” the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

“For the first time in decades, a torrent of water from melting snow from the Sierras is slaking the thirst of Los Angeles homes and businesses. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) now aims to capture some of the excess mountain runoff by storing it below ground,” the report said.

The tunnel will carry 130 acre-feet of water per day once it is restored, Los Angeles Curbed reported. The $4.5 million project began last year. The Maclay Highline was retired three decades ago.

Michael Grahek, LADWP manager of southern aqueduct and Owens Lake Operations and maintenance, told the Daily News: “We’re now going to be able to spread mountain water into the spreading grounds to deep water storage 425 feet down. It’s part of our ongoing effort to maximize the use of available water for our customers.”

The project plays a role in Los Angeles’ long-term water security plans.

“Los Angeles currently relies on Sierra Nevada water to slake its thirst following years of drought when runoff was in short supply. The tunnel restoration aims to capture excess runoff and store it underground for future use,” the Associated Press reported.

Los Angeles imported nearly two-thirds of its water during the drought. It now “gets all its water from Sierra runoff via its L.A. Aqueduct. By 2040, it aims to get 17 percent from its supply of aquifer groundwater,” the Daily News reported.

To read more about California’s water struggles visit Water Online’s Source Water Scarcity Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Los Angeles at Night from the Griffith Observatory," @andrewghayes © 2010, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: