Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Clearwater Program Is Back

This will be a post that will be published on several of my blogs because I feel it is important enough to share with everyone.

The Los Angeles County Sanitation District Number 5 is continuing necessary and recommended processes to create a third Joint Outfall System (JOS) from its Carson, CA treatment plant to the Pacific Ocean.

Two Joint Outfall Systems (JOS), one built in 1938 and the other one built in 1958 currently provide outfall capacity between the treatment plant and outflow facilities near the Palos Verdes Shelf, offshore from Royal Palms, in San Pedro, Ca.

The capacity of the two systems is nearing full capacity and they will not be able to handle future capacity.

I have written what I feel is a fair amount about the Clearwater Program in past posts, but new information, information I need to correct, and new opinions can now be shared. has been bookmarked on my computers for several years and it is the first and best source of information I urge everyone to go to.

Last Monday I met with Mr. Glenn Acosta, P.E. and Ms. Leslie Winner, both representing the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County.

A new series of outreach meetings with individuals and groups is currently underway and I hope these two fine representatives meet with everyone who has any interest in the Clearwater Program and who are able to help with opinions and other observations concerning the new proposals for this very needed program.

Mr. Acosta's Email address is:

With a whole new set of proposals and a new brochure available to offer greater insight into the Clearwater Program, concerned residents and others now can view new facts and opportunities that are different than what I wrote about previously.

What is not offered in the new proposals is four 'Alignment' prospects instead of over 16 first illustrated in previous information and the 50 originally offered by the Sanitation Districts.

Living doors away from the surface of Western Avenue and its subsurface containing the two original Outfall Systems, I may have a somewhat different perspective about the Program and I certainly have opinions, lots of them.

One of the first things I must offer is some corrections to some of my earlier posts.

According to the new information, the Outfall System Shafts would be approximately 30 feet in diameter and not the 'up to 200 feet' I originally wrote about. I know I heard that figure somewhere in earlier talks, but 30 feet is quite different that 'up to 200 feet', isn't it.

When I wrote that the depths of a shaft could be up to '500 feet' deep, I only got that incorrect by about 100 feet. According to the newest information, a shaft could be up to 400 feet in depth, the depths of any shaft could be much less than that.

I am also very relieved to note that there are only four remaining shaft site prospects with the new information.

As originally conjectured, there will be one shaft sunk at the Carson treatment plant's property. This will allow for one tunneling machine being places and would be one access point for the removal of dirt and debris while the tunneling is being done and the casements are being placed.

Originally, the public was informed about 16 sites between Carson and the Pacific Ocean where a second shaft might be considered.

Thankfully, very thankfully, that number has dropped to just four.

Of course and naturally, the old LAXT site is part of 'Alignment 1' proposal for a shaft that could include worker access and debris removal, all the way up to the placement of a second tunneling machine.

'Alignment 1', as currently proposed, would be the longest and costliest (on paper now) of the four alignments now under preview and review. Using this alignment would provide the Diffuser site somewhat close to the San Pedro Shelf, which is not as deep as the depth of the Palos Verdes Shelf provides.

'Alignment 2' is quite new and it probably includes a shaft at LAXT's old site on Terminal Island, it also adds another shaft at the former Southwest Marine site on Terminal Island. This alignment would be the second longest and it would provide the outfall from the plant going close to the Palos Verdes Shelf.

'Alignment 3' is considered by me right now as a 'non starter' because even though it provides an outfall end close to where 'Alignment 2' would have for its outfall, it requires a shaft be placed at the parking lot below the Korean Bell, on the Angel's Gate site. I will have more about that in a future post.

'Alignment 4' is the shortest and illustrated as being the 'least costly'. It would have the tunnel travel under San Pedro, as 'Alignment 2' also includes, but it's outfall would be near where the two existing outfalls are, near the Palos Verdes Shelf.

This alignment requires an Outfall Shaft being sunk at Royal Palms, down near the water.
I will have more about that in a future post.

I fully support the Sanitation Districts' Clearwater Program as long as the old LAXT site is utilized, no matter that is would be the most or second most expensive alignments to build.

What is most important right now, I feel, is community members for every community possible and reasonable, coming forward to offer facts, comments and opinions about this program that is truly needed for every one's future.

Please learn all you can about the Clearwater Program so you will have the best knowledge possible when dealing with a process that has already taken years and will probably take another 8-10 years to build out.

With all the opportunities, there are genuine concerns about the environment, both ecologically and when dealing with persons' environments.

The Clearwater Program: What I Like and What I Don't Like

So, the Clearwater Program is back and going forward. I think it is better than good for all of us, but there are some significant issues I have that I'd like to address.

In my almost one hour meeting with Mr. Acosta and Ms. Winner I told them that I was very supportive of the program as long as 'Alignment 1' and possibly 'Alignment 2' becomes the recommended alignments, but that they really shouldn't bother with Alignments 3 and 4.

Yes, it is written now that 'Alignment 4', with its shaft being sunk at Royal Palms is the shortest and 'least costly' in the $500 Million Dollar or possibly less range.

Yes, there is also 'Alignment 3' with its second 'least costly' aspect and its equal distance of 9 miles as compared to 'Alignment 2'. But it requires a shaft sunk at Angel's Gate. That would be at the newer parking lot, which is used by so many visitors and local residents attending gatherings at Point Fermin Park.

Yes, 'Alignment 1' is currently written up as the most expensive and longest alignment proposed at 14 miles long and $1.4 Billion Dollars.

And yes, of the four alignments now under consideration, 'Alignment 4' might have the 'least impact' on the environment, but everyone needs to take some issues under more careful consideration, such as:

Having the second shaft at LAXT means that should a second tunneling machine be placed, debris excavated would be able to be transported by rail and truck travel and there would be the least impact on residents, residences, traffic, and access.

I offered to Mr. Acosta and Ms. Winner that there is absolutely no way I would support the placement of shafts at Angels' Gate or Royal Palms and they really need to understand how there are more environments to consider other than what happens to the ground, sea, air, animal life and plant life.

The second shaft, no matter if it was sunk at Royal Palms or Angel's Gate would require up to or more than nine months of time for 'between 10 to 40' hauling trips, per day, to occur while debris is being trucked away.

What about the environment of San Pedrans who, when they flush, shower, bathe, or drain their sinks, never use the facilities that would be furnished because of all the digging done at Royal Palms or Angel's Gate?

There are lots of good San Pedrans who have some valid feelings that those of us who 'live on The Hill' send our 'trash' to San Pedro, rather than dealing with it ourselves.

Since we who benefit from Sanitation District 5 may want to call for the placement of a shaft at Royal Palms or Angel's Gate, I think we need to understand better how those who would have to deal with the all the requirements placed on the good folks in San Pedro as far as traffic inconvenience, added noise, and other types of impacts might want to rethink that is may not be the least costly to have shafts at Royal Palms or Angel's Gate.

I would imagine that the 25,000 household Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council may wish to be one of the first to head to court to stop any incursion into their neighborhoods by the Sanitation Districts.

I also think that the city of Los Angeles might wish to impose restrictions and/or obligations on our Districts should the Districts ultimately receive approval for 'Alignment 3 or 4'.

I remember when it was said that 'over 99%' of those asked or offering opinion about the placement of any second shaft clearly stated that the LAXT site was preferred over all others.

I do think we need a new Outfall System and I support the concept and many of the options. I do not however, feel any of this needs to be placed on the backs or in other ways interfere with anyone living in San Pedro or commuting around using the major access routes around that community.

It is still understood that there are those who support an outer harbor cruise ship terminal, even with the added transit troubles between any freeway access and outer harbor cruise ship terminal.

It should be considered that should that terminal be built and become operational about the same time either the Angel's Gate or Royal Palms shaft also find approval and construction begins, San Pedrans and others could see the following:

10-40 double dirt haulers per day, traveling along at least one major route though San Pedro and then when the biggest cruise ships call on San Pedro, all that trafficking of passengers and materials associated with huge cruise ship journeys also needing crosstown transport, together require great problems with all those wishing to travel around or through San Pedro while having nothing to do with ships or shafts.

Sometimes the 'least costly' is not really the 'least costly' when compared with all factors.

I do understand that the Environmental studies require the examination of more than two 'Alternatives' and that 'Alignments 3 and 4 must be studied. But that does not mean either of them should be taken very seriously, especially when so many people have already told representatives that any second or third shaft needs to be sunk on Terminal Island.

There are many good, true, real, and necessary reasons to support the construction of a new Joint Outfall System. But none of those reasons should overcome what could happen to San Pedro and San Pedrans and others in that area, who would be impacted by a process they never fully utilize and do not pay for.