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A Leader in Clean Water and
Protecting the Environment

The Sanitation Districts have gained international recognition and won numerous awards for their many environmental and scientific innovations in both wastewater and solid waste management.

Water Reclamation and Reuse
Facilities Plans
Industrial Wastes
Household Hazardous Waste Round-Ups
“No Drugs Down the Drain”
Green Power
Alternative Fueling Stations
Marshland Enhancement Program
Educational Programs

Water Reclamation and Reuse
As the population in Los Angeles County grew after World War II, the Sanitation Districts realized that additional facilities and infrastructure (beyond tunnel and deep ocean disposal) would be needed to accommodate growth and continue to protect public health and the environment. The Sanitation Districts were also looking at ways to accommodate reclaiming and reusing wastewater. “A Plan for Water Reuse” was published in 1963, calling for the Sanitation Districts to build facilities in areas that could collect high quality wastewater from primarily residential areas for reclamation and reuse. That eventually gave rise to the Sanitation Districts’ Water Reclamation Plants.

Facilities Plans
A Facilities Plan was published in 1995 that addressed facility needs through the year 2010. This plan resulted in upgrades to the Joint Water Pollution Control Plant (JWPCP) that were completed in 2005. A new Facilities Plan (the Clearwater Master Facilities Plan) was needed to address aging infrastructure and facility needs for the Joint Outfall System through the year 2050. This plan and its associated environmental review documents were approved by the Sanitation Districts' boards in November 2012.

Industrial Wastes
The Sanitation Districts have developed a number of programs over the years to ensure that industries remove harmful materials from their wastewater before discharging to the sewer system.

The Sanitation Districts’ Industrial Waste Section has worked cooperatively with industries since the 1970s to reduce and manage industrial wastes in compliance with increasingly stringent regulations.

Household Hazardous Waste Round-Ups
In 1989, the Sanitation Districts, in conjunction with Los Angeles County Deparment of Public Works, began the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Program to give residents a convenient and free way to properly dispose of HHWs.

“No Drugs Down the Drain”
The Sanitation Districts’ “No Drugs Down the Drain” program is aimed at educating the public about the importance of properly disposing of pharmaceuticals and their effect on the environment.

Green Power
The Sanitation Districts were identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as one of the top ten "Green Power Partners" in the nation and the only one on the list that generates the green power they use. The Sanitation Districts were also awarded an Honorable Mention in Energy Efficiency by the Flex Your Power Organization, a statewide energy efficiency marketing and outreach program.

Alternative Fueling Stations
The Sanitation Districts further promote green practices by using vehicles that utilize alternative fuels (e.g., compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG)) and operating two alternative fuel stations. The JWPCP CNG Fueling Station currently dispenses approximately 530,000 gasoline gallon equivalent units (GGE) of CNG fuel per year to local customers.
The Sanitation Districts are considering a project to replace the natural gas supplied by the utility with biogas produced as part of the treatment process at the JWPCP. Annually, the Puente Hills LNG Fueling Facility dispenses 130,000 diesel gallon equivalent units of LNG and 204,600 GGE of CNG. Both facilities are open to the public and also serve Sanitation Districts’ fleet vehicles. As gasoline or diesel vehicles reach the end of their useful life, the Sanitation Districts are replacing these vehicles with CNG-powered or LNG-powered vehicles.

Marshland Enhancement Program
The Marshland Enhancement Program provides for the restoration, enhancement, and maintenance of the Bixby Marshland, a 17-acre freshwater marsh located at the northwest corner of the JWPCP. The marshland is owned and operated by the Sanitation Districts, and opened to the public in July 2009 to provide regional educational opportunities and features improved water flow, the planting of native plants, and removal of non-native varieties. Bixby Marshland is open the first Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Docents are onsite to provide tours but self-guided tours are also available. Tours can also be scheduled by appointment for groups, including agencies, associations, and businesses. Water quality tests for students are conducted as part of the JWPCP’s outreach program.

Educational Programs
The Sanitation Districts provide educational programs for schools, community organizations, and others. These programs are free and are made available to the communities we serve. 

Sewer Science

In 2003, our Sewer Science program began providing students with a hands-on application of science as they simulate, clean, and test wastewater. Sewer Science is a 4-day wastewater treatment laboratory for high school students. All materials for the laboratory are provided by the Sanitation Districts. Facilitators are made available through a collaborative partnership between the Sanitation Districts and the Youth Science Center. Since its inception, the program has grown and is currently provided to approximately 5,000 students in Los Angeles County annually.

Think Earth Foundation

In 1998, we collaborated with regulators, educators, and agencies to establish the Think Earth Foundation. This program offers teachers curriculum materials for grades K-8. The curriculum relies on scientific principles to teach students the value of resource conservation, waste reduction, and pollution prevention.

Think Watershed

In 2006, we partnered with regulators, educators, and agencies, again, to form the Think Watershed program. This collaborative partnership funds field trips for upper-elementary students in Los Angeles County on board a floating laboratory in Long Beach and Los Angeles Harbors; provides pre- and post-trip curriculum to maximize students’ floating lab experience; and provides a website where students can compare results from on-board experiments.

Trash Free Lunch Challenge

In 2011, we partnered with Grades of Green to develop the Trash Free Lunch Challenge for schools in Los Angeles County. Since its inception, the challenge has supported 117 schools in implementing waste reduction programs, which has resulted in over 96,000 students educated and over 2,300 tons of trash diverted from landfills each year. The Trash Free Lunch Challenge is currently recruiting schools for the seventh annual Challenge.

Facility Tours

Our facilities are open to the community through a tours program. In 2004, we expanded the program by reimbursing schools for the buses needed to bring students on site. This program invites interested parties to experience operations first hand by touring our facilities. Tours are provided to regulators, elected officials, agencies, educators, and the general public. The tours last approximately 1 to 2 hours depending on the facility being visited. We welcome both children and adults, but require that children be at least 10 years of age.

Earth Day

In 2007, we co-hosted our first Earth Day Event with the Central Basin Municipal Water District. This annual fair is now hosted by the Sanitation Districts at our main office in Whittier. Community members are invited to tour a water reclamation plant and a materials recovery facility, create eco-friendly arts and crafts, and visit over 50 exhibitors at this educational event focused on protecting the environment.

Fifth Grade Water Education Program (Project WET)

In 2006, we started Project WET. This is a free water education program for fifth graders, provided through the Youth Science Center in the San Gabriel Valley. This program explores topics such as the water cycle; the value of water resources in Southern California; and water treatment, recycling, and conservation. Students participate in a hands-on laboratory and a classroom instructor is also provided. The program is taught for 3 weekly sessions, usually in 2 to 3 classrooms per session.

Keystone Science School

In 2001, we began sponsoring an exceptional educator within our service area to attend the Keystone Science School. This program gives educators the process, skills, and confidence to investigate current environmental issues and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) topics with their students.

Mohave Environmental Education Consortium (MEEC)

In 2001, we started contributing to MEEC, which is a grass-roots effort created to better serve educators, students and communities within our service area. This program provides environmental educational resources to STEM teachers. All of MEEC’s services are provided free of charge, thanks to the generosity of MEEC’s 40-plus local sponsors.

World Water College Grant Program

In 2004, we collaborated with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) and the United States Bureau of Reclamation to found the World Water College Grant Program. This program provides opportunities for college students to research, develop, and communicate water conservation technology in water-stressed regions such as Southern California. The Sanitation Districts have contributed to the College Grant Program since its inception in 2004. Through a competitive grant process, participating students are challenged to develop (1) conservation technology prototypes and communication strategies to save water; (2) new approaches and policies that help people think about using or allocating water differently; and (3) innovative ways to access, clean, use and save water in their everyday lives. Since 2004, the College Grant Program has disbursed over $400,000 in grant funding to 40 community college and university teams representing the counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, San Bernardino, Ventura, and San Diego.


The Sanitation Districts have been recognized by a number of organizations in the wastewater field, including the California Water Environment Association (CWEA); the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES); the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA); Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF); and the Water Environment Federation (WEF). Among the most recent awards are:

·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â  Municipal Project of the Year Award – The Sanitation Districts and Waste Management for their innovative project involving the recycling and conversion of food waste to green energy (from American Biogas Council)

 ·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â  Utility of the Future – Recognition Program (from WEF, EPA, WE&RF, WateReuse, and NACWA)

 ·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â  Grand Prize – Operations Management “Waste Not, Want Not – Recycling Food Waste at a Wastewater Treatment Plant” (from AAEE S)

 ·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â  Recycled Water Agency of the Year – Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County (from WateReuse)

 ·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â  Grand Prize – Planning Category, Excellence in Environmental Engineering Competition, “The Clearwater Program – Beyond Tunnel Vision” (from AAEES)

 ·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â  Grand Prize – Operations/Management Category, Excellence in Environmental Engineering Competition, “Innovative Energy Management Proves That It Pays to Be Green” (from AAEES)

 ·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â  Grand Prize – Research Category, Excellence in Environmental Engineering Competition, “Sequential Chlorination: An Innovative Approach for Disinfection of Recycled Water” (from AAEES)

·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â  Platinum, Gold and Silver Awards for Compliance with Treatment Plant Discharge Requirements at the Joint Water Pollution Control Plant and the upstream Water Reclamation Plants (from NACWA)

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The Sanitation Districts’ 1963 pioneering Plan for Water

A free Household Hazardous Waste Round-Up.

"No Drugs Down the Drain" urges the public to properly dispose of prescription drugs.

A CNG fueling station at the Joint Water Pollution Control Plant is open to the public.