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Water treatment study to cost $200,000

City Council approves contract to test a nitrate removal method at Rockhaven Sanitarium.

May 31, 2011|By Melanie Hicken, melanie.hicken@latimes.com

CITY HALL — Glendale Water & Power officials are set to spend $200,000 for a study they say is necessary to push forward with a planned groundwater well at the Rockhaven Sanitarium site.

Plans for the well have been in the works for nearly a decade as utility officials work to reduce Glendale’s reliance on costly imported water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

With current well capacity, the utility extracts roughly two-thirds of groundwater from the Verdugo basin as allowed under a state agreement.

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After several possible sites came up dry, the City Council last year approved an exploratory well at the historic site — purchased by the city for $8.25 million in 2008 — to determine whether a permanent well should be drilled.

That drilling found elevated levels of nitrates, which are considered a contaminant at high levels, so now utility officials say they need to determine a cost effective removal method.

In turn, the City Council on Tuesday approved a $200,000-contract with Canoga-based Water Quality & Treatment Solutions Inc. to perform a pilot study.

The study will test an alternative removal method that officials say is less expensive to maintain than the two traditional methods.

“The pilot is necessary to prove that the process will work,” Assistant General Manager Peter Kavounas said.

City Councilman Rafi Manoukian was initially skeptical of the study and pressed Kavounas on whether the well would be worth the investment.

“I’m looking at the cost-benefit analysis of cleaning nitrates from the water,” he said.

Utility officials predict that the well, which would cost between $1.5 million and $2 million for construction and start up, could pay for itself within four years and last at least 50 years.

“The indications that we have from the Rockhaven well are that it will be able to save the residents of Glendale somewhere on the order of half a million dollars a year once the well goes into production,” Kavounas said.

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