Councilmember Bill Rosendahl wants to share some facts about the Prop O stormwater facilities currently in operation or in various stages of construction.
The sharing of information comes on the heels of a high profile story that alleges the City wasted tax payer dollars at a stormwater facility in Mar Vista.
“Allegations like this are serious,” said Rosendahl. “I want my constituents to know that I am looking into this issue and I filed a motion that requests staff to come back to Council with a report on the projects currently in progress in the 11th District.”
So exactly what happened at the facility in Mar Vista? The Councilmember wants you to know what information was left out of the story.
First, it’s important to note that Los Angeles has a good record for building stormwater facilities: there are roughly twenty in the City and only two have been problematic. Cities across the country look to LA for its innovative work on these projects.
A spokesperson with the Department of Public Works says crews finished the Mar Vista project in late 2010 and operated for about a year demonstrating excellent water quality results.
The City’s operational staff took over the facility — and that’s when concerns were raised about the safety of the operation room and potential exposure to chemicals while working without appropriate spacing, ventilation and an accessible eye wash and shower.
As a result of the safety issues, the operation manager decided to shutdown the disinfection facility until a full safety assessment and optimization is completed.
“When we shutdown the facility, trash and debris started to collect in the storage tanks and built up bacteria,” said Adel Hagekhalil, assistant dierctor for the Bureau of Sanitation. “Because of the safety issue, running the system could jeopardize the health of our workers or violate safety regulations.”
The City is currently working on optimizing the facility. This is expected to be completed in a few weeks.
“We had to shut down,” said Hagekhalil. “It was the right thing to do.”
Hagekhalil also said experts in design, water quality compliance and treatment processes reviewed the facility and have assured the City that the system will operate effectively as designed once the employee safety issues are addressed and the facility is restarted and optimized.
“The City is leading the country in these innovative projects and many cities around the nation look to us for ideas in their communities,” said Hagekhalil. “The water quality along our coast has been better than ever and Heal the Bay’s annual report card has consistently given LA good grades for its water quality efforts.”
Before each system is built, a Citizens Oversight Committee made up of residents and environmental experts sign off on these projects as endorsed.