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Burbank moving fast toward reclaimed water

Irrigation with reclaimed resource will save the city money, officials say.

April 13, 2012|By Maria Hsin, maria.hsin@latimes.com

By next summer, Burbank’s major consumers of water — most schools, parks and studios — may all be irrigating with reclaimed water.

Burbank Water and Power embarked on a plan in 2007 to install 100,000 additional feet of pipeline throughout the city to allow more customers, especially big ones, to use recycled water for their lawns, shrubs and trees.

“Schools, parks, studios – the Recycled Water Master Plan wants us to serve all the major users in town,” said Matthew Elsner, a principal civil engineer in water services for BWP. “We wanted to get the major users. There are extensions that shoot out to Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery, Warner Bros., Disney.”

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DeBell Golf Club, one of the city’s first adopters, has been irrigating with recycled water since 1994, Elsner said.

Pipeline extensions carrying the recycled resource to Brace Canyon Park and John Burroughs High School were completed about a month ago, Elsner said.

“There are six pipeline extensions, totaling 100,000 feet of pipe,” Elsner said. “We’ve been tearing up the city really good. The City Council instructed us to accelerate [our work].”

Three elementary schools, including Ralph Emerson, will not be using reclaimed water for irrigation because they are too far from a pipeline extension, Elsner said.

Three parks, including the Santa Anita Play lot, will not use recycled water because of either size or location issues.

“They’re really small and if we have to put in a lot of pipe, it doesn’t make enough economic sense,” Elsner said.

The project’s $17.5 million cost was financed through a combination of bonds and low-interest state loans, Elsner said. The principal and interest on this financing will be paid back with the additional recycled water sales generated by the project.

The new pipes add an additional 300 million gallons a year of recycled water to the system, making an expected total of more than 1 billion gallons of recycled water, Elsner said. Eventually recycled water will be about 15% of the city’s total water portfolio.

Craig Bell, director of facilities for Burbank Unified, said district officials are being mindful of the school schedule and want to avoid any interruptions to classes, so a majority of the work necessary for installation of the reclaimed water system will take place during the summer.

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