To conserve water and save money, city officials plan to build an $8.5-million irrigation system to carry treated waste water to public parks, street medians and landscaped areas around public buildings.

By irrigating with treated waste water, city officials expect to save $80,000 a year, said Ron Babel, the city’s water superintendent. When completed, 20 miles of irrigation pipes will have the capacity to carry 1,500 to 4,000 acre-feet of the treated effluent a year. (An acre-foot is roughly 325,000 gallons or the average amount used annually by a family of five.)

Besides irrigating city land, Cerritos plans to offer the treated water at a discount to other public agencies. Those interested include the ABC Unified School District, Artesia Cemetery District, Bellflower Christian Schools and the California Department of Transportation. Caltrans would use the water to irrigate land along the San Gabriel River and Artesia freeways.

The city’s waste water is treated at Los Angeles County’s Sanitation District treatment plant in the northwest corner of the city. The treated waste is now released into the San Gabriel River to be carried to the ocean. Babel said the treated water is safe for aquatic life and human contact, but is not considered safe for drinking.


Cerritos officials will begin accepting bids on the project next month, and Babel said construction could begin in the fall. If all goes well, the project should be completed within a year.

About half the project’s cost will be covered by $4.5 million in grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Water Resources Board, Babel said. The city will pay the balance. Because the city has discussed such a project since the 1970s, some pipes for the system have been installed as streets have been repaved in recent years.