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Long Beach sharply reduces the amount of wastewater it treats

Seagulls and other birds swarm around sewage emanating

Seagulls and other birds swarm around sewage emanating from this sewage drain pipe, left, in Reynolds Channel in Long Beach on Nov. 17, 2010. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

The City of Long Beach has reduced its treated wastewater by more than 1 million gallons per day, nearly four years after the city improved infrastructure and the sewage system in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

The Long Beach Water Pollution Control Facility now processes 26 percent less wastewater per day, with 4.11 million gallons entering the city’s sewage treatment plant compared to 5.52 million gallons at in 2011.

City workers reduced the amount of wastewater by upgrading the sewage system while rebuilding city streets and replacing manholes among other repairs following Sandy, officials said. Today, the sewage being treated is at the lowest level since 1991.

One reason for the reduced water was repairs to stop storm water and groundwater going into the treatment plant, Public Works Commissioner Jim LaCarrubba said. Once the wastewater is treated, the clean water is pumped back into the bay of Reynolds Channel.

The city made repairs to aging underground decayed infrastructure that allowed groundwater to infiltrate through cracks and seals into the sewage system, adding to an increased volume being treated, officials said.

Public Works staff replaced the sewer infrastructure and manholes when needed anytime a blacktop surface and roadbed was repaired. Long Beach officials have invested $4 million for rebuilding the city’s water system and $5.5 million for repairs and upgrades to the city’s sewer system.

“The work we have done under the surface is just as significant as the work that is visible,” Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman said in a statement. “We are stronger because we are more resilient. We are smarter because we are saving significant money and we are safer because there is far less pollution.”

City officials said that previous city leadership left the sewer system unrepaired because it was inaccessible and too costly to fix.

City Council vice president Anthony Eramo said reducing water that requires treatment saves tax dollars and minimizes the outflow of treated water into Reynolds Channel.

“Once again, Long Beach is leading the way on environmental issues,” Eramo said.


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