Montebello Shifts to Recycled Water at Local Park

Bell Gardens uses some recycled water, while Commerce explores its options.

By Nancy Martinez, EGP Staff Writer

The severe statewide drought has spurred interest in water reclamation in a number of local cities, but the cost to build infrastructure to support the systems varies city to city, and in some cases is proving too expensive.

The city of Bell Gardens uses some recycled water but Commerce is still in the exploratory stage.

Last week, Montebello started using recycled water at the city’s largest park, saving millions of gallons of drinking water per year for other uses, according to city officials.

An $84,000 grant from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California paid for the new recycled water irrigation system at Grant Rea Park. The grant completely covered the cost to connecting the recycled water system to the city’s regional pipeline, which was installed by the Central Basin Municipal Water District in 2010 as part of the agency’s long-term regional water recycling plan, Montebello’s City Administrator Francesca Tucker-Schuyler told EGP in an email.

A sign at Grant Rea Park in Montebello warns residents of switch to recycled water, which is unsuitable for drinking. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

A sign at Grant Rea Park in Montebello warns residents of switch to recycled water, which is unsuitable for drinking. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

At the time, several city officials were criticized for supporting the Central Basin’s water 15-mile recycling pipeline, which runs from Vernon to Pico Rivera.

The regional pipeline runs for 6.2 miles through Montebello to the city of Pico Rivera. The city says the project could potentially deliver recycled water to other notable sites along the route, including Schurr High School, Wilcox Elementary, La Merced Intermediate and Elementary schools.

The change will save 18 million gallons of local drinking water, which will no longer be needed at the 22.65-acre park. Instead, recycled or reclaimed water will be used to irrigate landscapes and turf areas, including the park’s four baseball fields.

“The water recycling project at Grant Rea Park is the smartest way we can conserve our local water resources in the San Gabriel Valley and further reduce our reliance on imported water,” Tucker-Schuyler said.

The city moved forward with project in response to Gov. Brown’s call to reduce water use by 20 percent.

“If there’s anything this statewide drought has taught us, it’s that water reliability is crucial to maintaining our cities,” said Montebello’s Public Works Director Danilo Batson in a press release announcing the first water delivery.

The switch to recycled water will also cut the park’s water bill by 6.4%, since reclaimed water is less expensive.

In nearby Bell Gardens, Ford Park and the city’s golf course have been using reclaimed water exclusively for years.

The city has been saving money by purchasing the reduced priced recycled water, which is not fully treated or cleaned intensely as drinking water, says Bell Gardens Public Works Director Chau L. Vu.

“We’re getting more bang for our buck,” she told EGP. “It’s conserving water because it’s less wasteful.”

The city has been unable to reap the same savings at other city parks, however, because those parks do not have the infrastructure needed to install reclaimed water systems and the costs are too high to make the change.

In the meantime, Vu says the city is asking residents to do their part by conserving.

The ongoing drought also has city of Commerce staff talking about reclaimed water systems.

Commerce’s Public Works and Development Services Director Maryam Babaki told EGP the city has “a lot of interest” and is looking at possible venues.

“We are learning from other entities that are implementing systems,” she said.

Babaki points out, however, that the move would obviously require funding, investment in infrastructure and long-term planning. Where the funding would come from will play a big part in the ultimate decision.

Montebello’s Tucker-Schuyler tells EGP the city is looking at other grant opportunities to install similar systems at the city’s remaining eight parks and city-owned golf course.

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August 28, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


One Response to “Montebello Shifts to Recycled Water at Local Park”

  1. A Regional Approach Can Provide A Sustainable Solution to Local Water Supply | Jason Gardea-Stinnett on October 9th, 2014 12:01 pm

    […] a recent Eastern Group Publications article, EGP staff writer Nancy Martinez wrote an article ( about Montebello’s shift to recycled water use, which does an excellent job of framing the […]

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