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Using recycled water now mandatory

March 07, 2009|By Chris Cadelago

BURBANK — Amid Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pronouncement of a statewide drought emergency last week, local officials are touting a citywide policy that makes the use of recycled water on large irrigated landscaped areas mandatory.

The City Council on Dec. 16 approved the policy, which is believed to be the first of its kind in California.

The measure requires all properties neighboring recycled water meters that use 50,000 gallons a year or have 2,500 square feet of landscaping to use recycled water.


The measure should not affect single-family homes and most small businesses, city officials said.

The city’s 84 recycled water meters at 75 facilities delivered 705 million gallons of recycled water last year to the Burbank Water and Power campus, Burbank Town Center, Starlight Bowl, Empire Center, Bob Hope Airport, schools and parks.

Of the 705 million gallons, 255 million — the equivalent used by 1,600 average households — was devoted to landscape irrigation.

“There’s very little downside,” said Matt Elsner, principal civil engineer with Burbank Water and Power. “Recycled water is at least 15% cheaper. Given the current climate, cities should do everything they can to conserve.”

Water from around the region passes through the Burbank Water Reclamation Plant, which purifies the water through a biological process, then through the 84 meters situated around Burbank and on to parks and other areas of the city.

The recycled water policy is an extension of Burbank’s recent stance on water conservation. The City Council in 2007 approved a plan to add 300 million gallons of recycled water deliveries by 2012.

In January, the council passed the Restroom Aerator Ordinance, requiring the city’s 6,300 businesses to install low-flow faucet attachments to reduce water usage, which they passed out free of charge. Under the mandatory recycled water plan, parcel owners are responsible for the cost of on-site improvements.

They must also apply for a permit to use recycled water and pay a $1,348 fee, Elsner said.

Parks and schools are among the city’s major water consumers. Robert E. Gross Park, McCambridge Park, the Chandler Bikeway and Stough Canyon Nature Center have all begun using recycled water, said Teri Stein, deputy director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

“Our goal is to get this in all of the parks as quickly as possible,” Stein said.

She added that parks using recycled water are clearly marked by colored signage.

Burbank High School and John Muir Middle School currently use reclaimed water, said Craig Jellison, senior director of facilities for the Burbank Unified School District. Monterey High School and Providencia Elementary School will soon be fitted with equipment to do so under the district’s modernization plan, he added.

Recycled water will also be used at the synthetic multi-use fields planned for Burbank High and John Burroughs High School, both of which will be outfitted with large sprinklers to cool the artificial turf.

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