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City adds backup sewage basin

A new $13.5-million reserve basin on North Lake Street will increase the city’s wastewater treatment capacity, officials said, saving Burbank millions of dollars in annual payments to Los Angeles to pick up the slack.

Before the completion of the project, Burbank spent up to $2.5 million each year to send excess sewage flow to the Hyperion Treatment Plant run by the Los Angeles Department of Public Works.

The basin is expected to save Burbank between $500,000 to $1 million per year. The city does not have the ability to treat solids that pass through the system and must continue to send a portion of the wastewater to plants in Los Angeles and Glendale.

“The equalization basin saves us money through avoided costs,” said Public Works Director Bonnie Teaford. “And after this initial investment, we expect the payback period should be within the next five years.”


The new basin provides the city with 2 million gallons’ worth of reservoir storage space on the site of the city’s water reclamation plant. Burbank had a 9-million-gallon capacity to treat water and could only treat the flow within the system. With the added reservoir space, the city can now treat up to 12 million gallons.

“It makes the operation simpler and more efficient,” said Bill Mace, assistant general manager for water systems at the utility. “We can now easily utilize more of the water, and it solves the problem of changes in the flow.”

Of the 673 million gallons of reclaimed water distributed in the last fiscal year, 65% was used to cool Burbank Water and Power’s steam power plant and the remaining went to other uses in the city, officials said.

The utility will appear before the council later this month to report on the changes to the Recycled Water Master Plan, which will include an additional 326 million gallons of water to distribute in the city in order to displace the usage of drinking water for irrigation.


“It is really important and really beneficial,” Councilman Dave Golonski said Tuesday after attending the basin’s dedication ceremony. “It’s not very sexy and doesn’t make the headlines, but it’s a good thing we have it.”

Burbank will also be able to treat the water and pump it at night in an effort to save the city more money.

“We wanted to congratulate those who worked on this for a great project,” Teaford said. “We were on time and under budget.”

The 22-month project was funded primarily by user rates, capital reserves in the Sewer Fund and a $100,000 contribution from the Burbank Water and Power Fund.