From ELIZABETH MARCELLINO City News Service
Los Angeles County’s board of directors today decided to undertake a district-wide sewage infrastructure assessment after a recent leak that dumped 8 million gallons of sewage into the Pacific Ocean.
The superiors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger requested the evaluation.
“The sewer pipe that collapsed in Carson in late December and spilled 8 million gallons of sewage into our ocean was nearly 60 years old,” said Hahn. “We not only need to understand why this pipe was not replaced earlier, but also how our aging infrastructure is holding up in the sewer systems across the county.”
In a separate motion, Hahn and Supervisor Holly Mitchell recommended that the district authorities be involved in the Sanitation District’s investigation into the Carson leak.
The board does not directly oversee the various plumbing districts, although Mitchell sits on each of the district boards with representatives from the city and Barger and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl also represent the ninth and 17th districts, respectively.
Mitchell said that a video inspection of the pipe was conducted on December 1, just weeks before the failure, and no immediate action was required.
“I’m excited to see what our routine inspection may have missed,” said Mitchell.
The leaking sewage caused officials to shut down beaches in Los Angeles and Orange Counties over the New Year’s weekend.
Hahn said she expected to learn the district knows repairs are needed.
“They were playing (roughly) with the time it would take to make the necessary repairs and unfortunately they were running out of time,” said Hahn. “We don’t want that anywhere else in the district.
The board instructed representatives from the public works and health departments and the Bureau of Emergency Management to report the first results of the investigation on January 25.
Barger stressed the importance of proactive monitoring of systems that the county controls and that are “often out of sight and out of mind”.
The board gave public works workers 30 days to prepare a report on the Consolidated Sewer Maintenance District, which has 4,600 miles of main sewer systems in 37 cities and unincorporated areas. This report is expected to include information on planned infrastructure upgrades and repairs, long-term funding needs, and a plan to secure federal infrastructure funding to fund the work required.