Environment & Science

Amid drought, Torrance looks to double water treatment plant's output

From left to right: Torrance Mayor Patrick Furey; WRD Board of Directors members Albert Robles, John Allen, Rob Katherman and Williard Murray; and Robert W. Goldsworthy, after whom the plant is named. The Goldworthy plant expansion project kicked off Thursday.
From left to right: Torrance Mayor Patrick Furey; WRD Board of Directors members Albert Robles, John Allen, Rob Katherman and Williard Murray; and Robert W. Goldsworthy, after whom the plant is named. The Goldworthy plant expansion project kicked off Thursday.
Ty Washington/Water Replenishment District

In the midst of tough drought conditions, Southern California officials hope to double the output of Los Angeles County’s largest plant dedicated to regularly desalting groundwater for home use.

A $22.5 million project that launched Thursday will expand the Robert W. Goldsworthy Desalter in Torrance. According to officials, the expanded facility will help treat enough water to serve about 50,000 residents, or a quarter of Torrance’s population.

The Water Replenishment District built the Goldsworthy Desalter in 2001 to treat brackish water that infiltrated groundwater-bearing aquifers underlying the coastal areas of south L.A. County. According to the Water Replenishment District, the desalting works like this: 

Wells pump brackish water from the groundwater aquifer. That water is piped to Goldsworthy where it is treated with reverse osmosis technology. The treated water is used by the city of Torrance’s municipal water system, providing enough water yearly to serve almost 50,000 residents.

The Water Replenishment District manages groundwater that partially supplies about 4 million residents in south L.A. County.

Director Albert Robles said the district was the single largest purchaser of imported water in California when it was built in 1959. Thanks to projects like the Goldsworthy Desalter, Robles said that the Water Replenishment District will be independent of imported water within three years.

“The reason water's not rationed here in Southern California is because we have this incredible resource beneath our feet where we're able to store water,” said Robles. “And [the Water Replenishment District], through our stewardship and effective management of that incredible resource, we've managed to prevent water rationing."

At Thursday's kickoff event, Water Replenishment District Board Vice President Willard H. Murray Jr. said that the district is making great progress in stretching its water supplies. 

“We don’t know what the future will bring, but we need to be prepared for whatever it brings," Murray said.