TECHNOLOGY SPOTLIGHT: Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility

In the face of a severe drought between the late ’80s and early ‘90s, West Basin Water District in Southern California transformed their business model from imported water wholesaler to a leader in conservation and water recycling. After receiving state and federal funding to design and build a world-class water recycling treatment facility in 1992, the Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility opened its doors in the City of El Segundo.

Since then, The West Basin Municipal Water District has become an important provider of safe and high-quality water to the communities it serves. The facility operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, producing approximately 40 million gallons of usable water every day. It conserves enough drinking water to meet the needs of 80,000 households a year. West Basin works alongside with the Water Replenishment District to supply 75% of the water injected into the West Coast Groundwater Barrier, conserving 5,000 acre-feet of water each year. They are expecting to increase that amount to 100% in the future.

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The Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility (ECLWRF) is not only the largest water recycling facility of its kind in the United States, but it is also the only treatment facility in the country that produces five different qualities of “designer” or custom-made recycled water that meet the unique needs to the communities it serves.

The water treatment plant also contains a 60,000 square foot solar power generating system that reduces their carbon dioxide emissions by over 356 tons in one year’s time. This is the equivalent to planting nearly 100 acres of trees or not driving 890,007 miles. The solar power generated at this facility also supplies 10% of their peak energy needs.

In addition to their continuing sustainability efforts, their visitor education center created a recycling program to teach its visitors the importance of conserving energy and water. Grade-school children can also visit the West Basin Water Recycling Phase IV Expansion site to show them how valuable and rare water is.

In a future, where water demands might urge the world to create new sources of water, it seems that recycled water- in combination with building a more drought resistance infrastructure- has the potential to help us be more climate-independent. The Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility is establishing the technology framework that can potentially help to alleviate California’s continuous water scarcity issues.