Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


Morning Brief: Recycled Wastewater, Eco-Friendly City Vehicles, Green Schoolyard Update

A man in a white hardhat and neon safety vest points to a machine that puts wastewater through reverse osmosis to purify it.
Mehul Patel, operations director for Orange County's wastewater recycling plant, explains how reverse osmosis works. It's the most important purification step in the process.
(Erin Stone
Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your tax-deductible financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

Good morning, L.A. It’s Wednesday, June 29.

So, I’ve got a question for you: would you drink sewer water?

Yeah, I’m not sure I would. But recycled wastewater might be in all our futures. To understand why, my colleague Erin Stone has a pretty enlightening story you need to read.

We all know California has a water problem. The Colorado River, where we get most of our water in Southern California, is going through a “megadrought," the worst in 1,200 years. Greenhouse gases just make it worse. As temperatures rise, less snow falls. That means there’s less snow melt to fill up our rivers and reservoirs. Erin says that we, as a society, have to dramatically reduce emissions and slow the climate crisis down within this decade.

Support for LAist comes from

California’s droughts are getting even more severe and common. This month, more than 6 million of us Southern Californians were put under strict mandates for using water. So, if our regular sources are drying up, we have to get more creative, like recycling wastewater…yes, even for drinking. 

Don’t worry. As Erin details in her article, there’s a whole fascinating process for this. At Fountain Valley’s Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) — the largest recycling water facility in the world — wastewater goes through an intricate process that includes steps like microfiltration, which removes any remaining solids from the water, and then an even more intense version of this called reverse osmosis.

About How to LA Newsletter
  • This is the web version of our How To LA newsletter. Sign up here to get this newsletter sent to your inbox each weekday morning

Even though the phrase “toilet-to-tap” is not new, because of our dire need to do something about this climate crisis we’re facing, direct potable reuse is likely coming our way when lawmakers finalize laws around it by 2023.

So, with that said, would I drink sewer water?

I guess we all might have to.

As always, try to stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below the fold.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Good news on the climate front: Your street sweeper could soon be using an electric truck. The L.A. City Council Tuesday passed two motions aimed at bringing us closer to the goal of 100% of the city’s energy coming from renewable sources by 2035.
  • Land in Manhattan Beach that was seized from a Black family almost a century ago is now being given back to its descendants, following a unanimous vote by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. 
  • Heads up: If you were planning to cut through Griffith Park to avoid freeway traffic, that will no longer be an option. The city is banning cars in the park to experiment with ways to make it feel more safe and welcoming for people who walk, bike or horses.
  • It’s hard to imagine L.A. without its food trucks. But with rising gas prices, inflation, and the pandemic, some food truck owners are struggling to keep their businesses afloat.
  • Grocery pharmacists in L.A. are rallying for fair wages and more staff to support overworked employees.
  • It’s not yet the weekend (almost there, folks) but there’s still lots to do in the city. Your options include Wiz Khalifa’s new delivery-only restaurant and a free bingo night hosted by Drag Queen Marta BeatCh. Check out the full list of events here.

Before You Go...A Follow Up Email From My Old Elementary School!

The Wilshire Crest Garden at Wilshire Crest Elementary School was started by school parents and volunteers in 2008.
(Courtesy of Elizabeth Fuller )
Support for LAist comes from

Remember yesterday when I wrote about playing tetherball and other games on the hot asphalt at Wilshire Crest Elementary School in the late ‘90s? Well, guess what? I heard back from them. One of the moms who started the garden with a fellow parent read our newsletter and told me that my old school now has a school garden and green space. I’ve attached pictures below. It’s so nice, isn’t it? She told me they started the project back in 2008, and even though their kids have moved on to higher grades, they still raise money, write grants and work with the school’s Parent Teacher Association to ensure the young students have green thumbs.

Wilshire Crest Elementary School Garden
Wilshire Crest Elementary School Garden was started by parents and volunteers in 2008.
(Courtesy of Elizabeth Fuller )

This is what the parent, Elizabeth Fuller, wrote me: “The Wilshire Crest garden - started by school parents and volunteers in 2008 - has garden boxes for each grade level, as well as a grape arbor, fruit trees, and a variety of edible crops such as artichokes, fava beans, strawberries, squash, watermelon, pumpkins, peppers, sour sorrell, mint, basil, and many more.  The school offers a program from the non-profit Garden School Foundation, taught during regular school hours, that provides instruction in science, gardening, and nutrition to all students at the PreK-5 school.” 

Now, isn’t that amazing? I think I want to go back to visit!

Wilshire Crest Elementary School Garden
Near the large grape arbor, volunteers make new signs for the garden boxes during a recent garden work day. Wilshire Crest Elementary School Garden was started by parents and volunteers in 2008.
(Courtesy of Elizabeth Fuller )
Help Us Cover Your Community
  • Got something you’ve always wanted to know about Southern California and the people who call it home? Is there an issue you want us to cover? Ask us anything.

  • Have a tip about news on which we should dig deeper? Let us know.