Sewage from Santa Monica Bay is now causing water supply problems amid drought

Problems at a Los Angeles wastewater treatment plant, which last month resulted in a massive sewage spill into Santa Monica Bay, have severely curtailed the area’s water recyclability, forcing officials to divert millions of pounds of clean drinking water during times of deteriorating drought conditions.

Although California Governor Gavin Newsom is calling for a voluntary 15% reduction in water use, the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant’s inability to fully treat wastewater has forced local officials to divert clean drinking water for uses normally supplied with recycled Hyperion water . These purposes include trying to protect coastal aquifers from seawater pollution, as well as irrigating parks, cemeteries, and golf courses in southwest Los Angeles County.

The sudden loss of millions of gallons of recycled water has alarmed experts and raised new questions about the functionality of the facility in a warming climate.

“This is water we can’t afford,” said Loyola Marymount University professor emeritus John Dorsey, a wastewater treatment and watershed management researcher.

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