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An Architect Wants To Turn The Valley's Runoff Into Clean Water For A Pool

A rendering of Liquifying Aquifers (Image courtesy of Lujac Desautel)
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One young architect has devised a plan to recapture and clean L.A.'s runoff water to create a community pool and restore a parched aquifer in the Valley. While a lot of the talk about wasted water in L.A. revolves around drought-shaming, architect Lujac Desautel has a different approach. His proposal, known as "Liquifying Aquifers," is to take the roughly 200 million gallons of runoff water that washes down the L.A. River and out to sea daily, clean that water and then redirect it to a public swimming pool and also restore the depleted San Fernando Valley groundwater basin, Wired reports.

The idea would be to use a system of wells to redirect water from the Tujunga Wash, a 13-mile tributary of the river—into three concrete structures that look like upside-down pyramids. The first two pyramids would use plant-based filters to clean the runoff, which includes junk from sewage, street runoff, lawns, golf courses, etc. The purified water would then be directed into the third pyramid, which would become a community pool for the public. The remaining water—and there would likely be plenty—would then head towards the SFV aquifer, which provides more than 800,000 people in L.A. with potable water.

And while some might think a pool is not the best plan for a water conservation project, Desautel considers the inclusion a key component of the L.A. lifestyle. "The reality is, people live this outdoor lifestyle here," he tells Wired. "To take this away is to take away the DNA of what Los Angeles is." And perhaps more importantly, by creating a large public pool, the project offers a more sustainable alternative to countless private pools.

Desautel's project is very much in the early stages of conception, but it did win an award in the "pragmatic category" from Archinect's Dry Futures competition. Jon Christensen, a professor from UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, also liked the plan, saying that it is "a wonderful addition to the conversation to say 'Hey, look at what's possible.'"