News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 2 to 3 p.m.

2.4 million gallons of sewage later: is LA’s sewage system up to snuff?




A tractor rakes up the debris on the beach, Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Long Beach, Calif.  A 4-mile stretch of a Los Angeles-area beach was closed Thursday to swimmers and surfers after tar balls washed ashore — the latest Southern California coastline to shut down due to oily goo, authorities said.
A tractor rakes up the debris on the beach, Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Long Beach, Calif. A 4-mile stretch of a Los Angeles-area beach was closed Thursday to swimmers and surfers after tar balls washed ashore — the latest Southern California coastline to shut down due to oily goo, authorities said.
Jae C. Hong/AP

Listen to story

07:16
Download this story 17MB

Sun lovers are still waiting to get back into the water in the South Bay following Monday’s sewage spill. Beaches remain closed after another round of tests show a presence of sewage remains.

In the aftermath of the 2.4 million gallon sewage spill, Take Two’s A Martinez talks with Bruce Reznik, Executive Director of Los Angeles Waterkeeper- an environmental organization advocating for water quality in the Los Angeles waterways.

A Martinez and Bruce Reznik discuss Monday’s spill and the current state of LA’s sewage system.

Bruce Reznik:

You need consistent monitoring to show no high bacteria counts over a period of days before you can reopen so probably best to stay out for a little bit and let things run their course.

 

It’s not only just an annoyance obviously for locals, but for businesses that rely on tourism and folks coming out to the beach, it has a tremendous economic impact as well. You’re talking in our region, tens of millions of people that come out to our beaches and bay every year.

 

This was an old sewer line that has been identified as a problem out around the Boyle Heights area that crumbled. That’s where you see a lot of sewage spills happening, is with aging infrastructure and pipes that are beyond their life expectancy. This is a 1929  pipe- nearly one hundred years old. Most pipes, you expect them to last around fifty to seventy years… but despite some serious, significant efforts and investment over the last decade or more by the city but there are still a lot of older pipes and that was the problem here.  

 

There’s been a lot of investment made over the last twenty years and you’ve seen a dramatic increase - 85% reduction of spills over the last twenty years but you still have a lot of pipes that are older. So far, this is an aberration. The city has done a good job. They’ve gone from being a fairly bad agency... to really one of best in the region and kind of a model but certainly this is an eye opener for us...we’ve got to stay on top of our infrastructure.


In the end, not only are they a public health threat, an environmental threat but also an economic threat is we go back to the bad old days when we were averaging a couple of spills a day and closing our beached regularly.