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La Cañada Flintridge buys recycled water to save trees during drought

La Cañada Flintridge buys recycled water to save trees during California drought

Hoping to save trees on street medians after new state rules banned using potable water to irrigate them, La Cañada Flintridge is securing truckloads of recycled water from the city of Glendale to get the job done.

Because La Cañada Flintridge does not have its own recycled water infrastructure, the city plans to purchase non-potable water to safeguard the health of trees and plants in its street medians.

The city looked to Glendale Water & Power, which maintains a program that grants construction companies temporary access to hydrants for a per-unit fee. Users are given a meter that measures water output and charges them accordingly, said Michael De Ghetto, the utility’s assistant general manager.

“If someone’s building a building, and they need water during construction, [they] can put a meter on the hydrant,” De Ghetto said on Friday. “We take reads on the meter and then bill them for however much is used.”

La Cañada Flintridge will be the first city to open an account for use of the construction meters. The plan works because the cities are close enough together to keep the trucking costs from being cost-prohibitive, De Ghetto said.

Currently, La Cañada is using Glendale’s recycled water to irrigate medians three times a week along Foothill Boulevard, Angeles Crest Highway and a landscaped island at Oakwood Avenue and Lynnhaven Lane.

The combined water use for one round of irrigation is about 7,000 gallons, which, at $2.47 per 100 cubic feet, costs about $24 per watering, according to Edward Hitti, public works director for La Cañada. Funding for that comes from La Cañada’s general fund.

Plans are to continue the watering through the end of the month, at which time crews from the La Cañada Public Works Department will assess the health of the vegetation to determine whether twice weekly watering would work just as well.

Hitti called the idea a semi-permanent solution for the time being.

Irrigating public landscapes with nondrinkable water is permissible and encouraged under the executive order issued by Gov. Jerry Brown in April, according to a release issued Tuesday by the city of La Cañada.

Recycled water, although not fit for drinking, is treated to tertiary levels, a purification level fit for landscape irrigation.

sara.cardine@latimes.com

Cardine writes for Times Community News.

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