Nearly two decades ago, WRD set out on a monumental mission - to create a resilient and locally sustainable source of water for groundwater replenishment. The semi-arid climate of WRD's service area, which covers the southern half of Los Angeles County, is populated by four million residents and groundwater accounts for nearly half of the region's drinking water demand. This demand for freshwater vastly exceeds nature's ability to replenish these groundwater basins on its own.
As a groundwater management agency, WRD provides supplemental replenishment water delivery to two Los Angeles County Public Works infrastructure systems: the Montebello Forebay Spreading Grounds located in the City of Pico Rivera and the Seawater Barrier Project injection wells located along the coast. Traditionally, imported water was used to supplement these systems. However, through technological and regulatory advancements, recycled water can now be used for 100 percent of replenishment purposes, supplemented by imported water only as needed to maintain barrier demands.
BEFORE AND AFTER THE WIN PROGRAM
Before WIN – Initially, 100 percent of the replenishment demand required beyond local stormwater was satisfied through purchases of imported water from the Colorado River or Northern California. While WRD pioneered the use of recycled water for spreading in 1962 and for injection in 1994, it still sourced 27 percent of replenishment supplies from imported water in 2003. At the same time, much of LA County’s treated wastewater was flowing directly into the ocean unused. In an effort to offset that final 27 percent of imported water and put locally recycled water to use, the WRD Board of Directors began the Water Independence Now (WIN) program to protect the security of the region’s groundwater supplies.
After WIN - WIN was not a single project, rather WIN was a suite of projects aimed at maximizing local stormwater and recycled water sources to replenish, preserve and protect two of the most utilized urban groundwater basins in the nation. With the completion of WRD's Albert Robles Center for Water Recycling and Environmental Learning in 2019, WRD achieved the goal of providing a locally sustainable water supply for groundwater replenishment in the Montebello Forebay.
This means that WRD is permitted to replenish the basins with 100% recycled water. By utilizing local replenishment alternatives, WRD has secured groundwater sustainability and reliability while using water that would have otherwise flowed unused to the ocean. Additionally, costs remain affordable to ratepayers and energy savings from using less imported water yields a valuable environmental benefit of reduced carbon emissions.
By realizing the goals of WIN, WRD is providing drought-resilience and water security to the region while creating a legacy of environmental stewardship.
HOW WIN WORKS
WIN’s various projects tackled the objective from multiple fronts. WIN projects increased the production and use of recycled water, helped treat a brackish groundwater plume, added operational flexibility to the spreading grounds, and improved stormwater capture infrastructure.
Many of the recycled water projects were made possible due to decades of regulatory and technological advancements which allowed WRD to supply the seawater barriers with 100 percent recycled water and use a blend of 45 percent tertiary treated and 55 percent stormwater, or 100% advanced treated water, at the spreading grounds. Prior to these regulatory advancements, WRD was required to use imported water for injection at the barriers and for blending requirements at the spreading grounds.
By pursuing every drop of local water through innovative practices and fruitful partnerships, WRD has created the capacity to meet its replenishment needs with a local supply of stormwater and recycled water.
KEY WIN PROJECTS
Increased Production and Use of Local Water Sources
- WRD's Albert Robles Center for Water Recycling and Environmental LearningWater used at the Montebello Forebay Spreading Grounds
- Leo J. Vander Lans Advanced Water Treatment Facility ExpansionWater used for injection at the Alamitos Gap Barrier
- Increased recycled water purchases from West Basin Municipal Water District's Ed C. Little Water Recycling Facility for injection at the West Coast Barrier Los Angeles' Terminal Island Water Reclamation Plant for injection at the Dominguez Gap Barrier
- Robert W. Goldsworthy Desalter Facility ExpansionWater used for municipal distribution in the City of Torrance
Recycled Water Regulatory Advancements
- WRD worked with regulators to Increase permitted amount of advanced treated recycled water to 100% for injection at the seawater barriersIncrease permitted amount of tertiary recycled water to 45% over a 10-year average for infiltration at the spreading groundsHave ARC water considered "null" water for replenishment at the spreading grounds, not counting toward the 45% limit
Increased Operational Flexibility at the Spreading Grounds and Improvements to Stormwater Capture Infrastructure
- Interconnection Pipeline between the Rio Hondo Spreading Grounds and the San Gabriel Spreading Grounds
- 2 Turnout Structures in the San Gabriel Spreading Grounds
- 2 Rubber Dams in the San Gabriel River
- Whittier Narrows Conservation Pool Enhancements