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The Los Angeles Times has carried a couple of environmentally related stories that caught my eye over the past few days. They’re worth a read.

The Times took a look at the problem San Diego County faces in dealing with the invasive quagga mussel, which threatens to damage the region’s water supply infrastructure. The Times said:

The infamous fresh-water quagga mussel, which has wreaked havoc in the Great Lakes, multiplies so quickly and prolifically that it forms large masses that can clog water pumps, pipelines, power plant intakes and farm irrigation lines.

Its rapid-fire invasion this year from Lake Mead — which straddles the border between Arizona and Nevada — southwest to San Diego is alarming water officials in a semi-arid region that heavily depends on imported water moved through a vast network of pipelines and canals.

The quagga already has infested the 242-mile-long California Aqueduct, five San Diego County reservoirs and two of the three largest reservoirs in Riverside County operated by the Metropolitan Water District, which supplies Los Angeles with most of its water.

And the Times examined the Orange County Water District’s sewage purification system, which is now operating. San Diego’s City Council is pursuing a similar project on a pilot basis. It would use treated sewage to recharge area drinking-water reservoirs. The Times reported:

At $550 per acre-foot, the recycled water is slightly more expensive than supplies brought in from Northern California. But water district officials predict that the cost of the treated water will become more competitive as the price of imported water rises.

Officials say the reclamation process uses less electricity than moving the same amount of water to Orange County through the state’s system of aqueducts. The California State Water Project consumes about a fifth of the energy used in the state.

The reclamation plant also will dramatically reduce the volume of treated sewage discharged daily off the Orange County coast. The sanitation district now releases about 240 million gallons a day through its ocean outfall — an amount that could be cut by more than half given the potential of water recycling. … Projects similar to Orange County’s are under study in San Diego, San Jose, Texas, Florida, Australia and Singapore.

ROB DAVIS

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