In Partnership with 74

Water, water everywhere, and LAUSD seeking ways to conserve it

Mike Szymanski | January 20, 2016

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The need for flushing water will soon be over.

Conserving water and investing in new water stations will save LA Unified money in the long run, according to a report released yesterday.

The report, from chief facilities director Mark Hovatter, also said eliminating the flushing just to clear lead from drinking water would save 9,500 gallons of water a day or 2.5 million gallons a year. It would also save 500 hours of custodial time a day or 130,000 hours a year.

Hovatter appeared before the school board’s Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee to provide an update on the district’s Hydration Station Plan, Water Conservation Awareness and an El Niño update.

Board members Richard Vladovic and Mónica Ratliff expressed concern that students may be refilling plastic water bottles. Ratliff said she didn’t like the idea of having parents buy water bottles for their children, and Vladovic was concerned about sharing them when there is a potential for spreading colds.

“We will not be taking away all the water stations,” Hovatter said. Along with water-filling stations, schools will continue to have safe water fountains.

The district has an estimated 60,000 active water fountains, and those that are not labeled safe for consumption will be removed or replaced. In the past, the district flushed out water outlets for 30 seconds every day to get rid of possible lead build-up.

The district approved $19.8 million last year, and 53 new employees were hired to handle the water fountain issues over the next two years.

The district is also using recycled water for irrigation of landscapes at some schools and adding plumbing retrofits to conserve water, according to Roger Finstad, LAUSD’s director of Maintenance and Operations.

“With all this rain from El Niño it doesn’t mean that the drought is over,” Finstad said.

Only seven of the district’s 30,000 classrooms have been closed down due to the storms earlier in the month. About 1,470 calls were made to maintenance because of the rains and 900 of those calls are for roof leaks. Finstad said the LAUSD maintenance crews are working non-stop to make repairs before future rains.


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