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Sewer line project delayed

Burbank is pushing back on plans to build a portion of a new Los Angeles sewer line under Pass Avenue, arguing in its latest court filing that there hasn’t been a sufficient study into the environmental impacts.

Burbank officials filed a petition this month requesting a hearing that challenges Los Angeles’ environmental impact reports on the Burbank sewer alignment.

Officials also contend they were not given proper notice or the opportunity to solicit public feedback on L.A.'s findings.

In a review of the Los Angeles wastewater collection system, in which Burbank is a partner, public works officials determined that pipes more than 50 years old needed to be replaced or upsized to accommodate increases in population or water flow.


The plan originally proposed a pipeline underneath residential streets in Burbank’s Rancho District, but after public outcry there, a hybrid path down Pass Avenue was penciled out. But Burbank officials filed a lawsuit after they said Los Angeles failed to complete a comprehensive analysis of the potential environmental effects of the project.

“Failure to give notice has prevented the city and the community at large to review the corrections to its EIR,” said Burbank City Atty. Dennis Barlow.

In its filing in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Burbank asked L.A. to postpone the Burbank segment until more environmental studies could be performed.

But L.A. officials said the segment is an essential part of keeping up with demand as older pipes become weaker and less able to handle increased flow.


“The new sewer is essential to protect public health, the environment, provide additional capacity necessary for the region and relief to the old sewer,” Los Angeles Assistant Public Works Director Adel H. Hagekhalil said. “The majority of the proposed sewer runs in the City of Los Angeles, except for a very small section that crosses through Burbank.”

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chaflant sided with Burbank in October 2007, finding that Los Angeles’ environmental review didn’t adequately address the impact on traffic, noise and historical points of interest.

The court issued an injunction until Los Angeles amended its environmental review to address Burbank concerns.

Los Angeles filed a follow-up report on Nov. 22, prompting Burbank’s latest response, which

Los Angeles officials said they are in the process of reviewing.

They said they’ve made every effort to accommodate the concerns raised by Burbank during the planning and environmental review phases, pointing to alignment revisions, modified construction methods and the promise of no surface construction.

The Burbank segment was initially set to be constructed from July 2014 to July 2019, but that timeline may be pushed back to around 2020 based on demand and the availability of funding, officials said.

“Our goal will be to work to together with Burbank on addressing any remaining issues and protecting our cities for the future,” Hagekhalil said.


And despite the legal concerns of project impacts, Burbank Public Works Director Bonnie Teaford said the long term benefits would be worth it.

A faulty pipe that burst Nov. 2, causing a 30,000-gallon sewage spill in Burbank, forced officials to divert flow into the shared Los Angeles system while repairs were completed.

“If a pipe is not big enough, it could back up or overflow,” Teaford said. “It is important to have adequately sized infrastructure for a sewer.”