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District 7 Director Doug Failing, flanked by Assemblymember Mike Feuer (L) and LADWP CEO and General Manager David Natal (R).

Caltrans, LADWP Join Forces to Save Water
by  Judy Gish
Issue Date: 01/2009

Yes we can conserve water. It just takes committment, partnerships and innovation.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) took an important step forward in water conservation efforts when it announced its commitment to reduce its water usage in Los Angeles 20 percent by 2012.

Caltrans signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to this effect and announced the agreement at a press conference on December 8.

Participating in the event were Assemblymember Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), Caltrans District 7 Director Doug Failing and LADWP CEO and General Manager David Nahai.
“With State and local authorities calling on the public to conserve water, government must lead by example,” Feuer said. “This agreement between Caltrans and LADWP is a model for agencies throughout California.”

The agreement also requires the agencies to appoint senior-level liaisons to collaborate on new and innovative conservation measures, and details steps the agencies will take to achieve that goal. Caltrans has named Maintenance Deputy Dan Freeman as liaison.

“As a result of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s direction in February 2008 to achieve a 20 percent reduction in per capita water use statewide by 2020, Caltrans has sought to coordinate efforts with local water districts and agencies to improve the State’s water conservation efforts,” Failing said.

He outlined the current efforts, which include three pilot project sites where water conservation measures have been or will be implemented. Each project will be evaluated and will serve as a model for future expansion and collaboration. The pilot project sites are:
1. The San Diego Freeway (I-405) at Sherman Way, where two irrigation systems are being converted to use recycled water. This will result in a yearly savings of 3.3 acre-feet of potable water. Conversions of any water meter to recycled water results in a 100 percent reduction in the use of drinking water.

2. The Golden State Freeway (I-5)/Pasadena Freeway (I-110) Interchange. At this site, four independent water controllers have been converted to a weather-based centrally controlled system that has already resulted in a yearly savings of 2.6 acre-feet of potable water, an 8 percent reduction.

3. The Hollywood Freeway (U. S. 101) from Sunset Boulevard to Pilgrimage Street. Water conservation efforts in this area are expected to save as much as four acre-feet per year, a 20 percent reduction from the four-year historic average use at this site.
“Caltrans already has implemented other practices to conserve water,” Failing said. They include: using drought-tolerant plant materials and recycled materials to create mulch, which helps retain water; directing irrigation to individual plants rather than spraying a large area wherever geographically possible; putting sprinklers on an automatic clock and fitting them with rain sensors; and using recycled water for irrigation. The Department also is exploring the use of “hardscapes” to create aesthetically pleasing designs that do not require vegetation, he added.

“Of course, we cannot drought-proof California,” Failing said. “But we can make things better. We can decrease our water usage with relatively few statewide economic impacts and, through collaboration and partnerships, we can all be good stewards of California’s precious, natural resources.”

Speaking on behalf of LADWP, Nahai said, “Caltrans is to be commended for seeking to cut its water use. There is no greater or more visible example of using water than along the hundreds of miles of landscaped freeways that crisscross our city. Angelenos have already begun cutting back their use and we are pleased that Caltrans has committed to this effort.”