More than a year after the idea was proposed, the sidewalks of Reseda's business district this week became the first in Los Angeles to be cleaned regularly with treated sewage water from the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in the Sepulveda Basin.
Since 1987, a city-hired company has cleaned sidewalks along Reseda Boulevard and Sherman Way using high-pressure hoses filled with drinking water--about 7,000 gallons a week--that runs off into storm drains. Concerned that the water could be put to better use, area business owners last year began asking city officials whether reclaimed water could be used.
This week, after completing a complicated application process, a Granada Hills company that specializes in cleaning outdoor surfaces with water loaded its first 1,000 gallons of reclaimed water at Tillman. Since Monday night, the company has been using it to blast debris off the pavement.
"We'd like to use reclaimed water everywhere," said Shirley M. Garrett of Hi Pressure Systems, which also cleans Hollywood's Walk of Fame. "Now all this water can be used for other purposes."
Two other companies continue to use drinking water to clean sidewalks elsewhere in the city. One, Hydro Pressure Systems, uses more than 25,000 gallons a week, said Barry Woods, president. Hi Pressure continues to use drinking water in areas other than Reseda.
Hi Pressure is the first company to gain city approval to use reclaimed water from Tillman and another plant near Griffith Park; the water is otherwise flushed at the rate of about 80 million gallons a day into the Los Angeles River.
City officials had hoped that more businesses would sign up to buy reclaimed water after it was approved for certain uses earlier this year, but the application process is long and difficult. Before they can pump water from the plant, applicants must have $1 million in liability insurance and supply their own truck capable of carrying at least 500 gallons. Additional rules govern how the water can be used after it is purchased.
Hi Pressure will fill up its 1,000-gallon truck four times each week and use it to fill smaller tank trucks used by the cleaning crews.
The company will pay the city 94 cents for every 1,000 gallons it pumps from Tillman, about 20% less than the price for fresh drinking water. That will save Hi Pressure an estimated $50.78 a month, according to city officials.
Because Hi Pressure must pay a $50 monthly service fee, the net savings is 78 cents a month. In fact, the company may actually spend more than it saves, Garrett said. The crews, which work at night, used to fill their tanks then, but now someone must be assigned to fill the tanks when Tillman is open.