LADWP — Evil, Corrupt, or Public Servants?

At the LA Daily News, it’s open season on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. But that’s really business as usual; they have waged a long-standing attack against LADWP. I’d like to share my experiences with LADWP with you, so that you might benefit from a different perspective.
My first project with LADWP was in the early 1980’s, when the Los Angeles Filtration Plant was being commissioned. My role was to supervise some technical training for the new Operators of this state-of-the-art plant. Until just recently, it was the largest drinking water treatment plant using ozone disinfection in the world. One of the things the papers won’t tell you about this project is that the research scientists and engineers at LADWP developed an innovative approach that yielded a remarkably small plant, relative to the massive flow capacity. Their ability to obtain approval for a direct filtration plant with filtration rates of more than double the now national limit of 6 gpm/sqft saved their customers a few hundred million dollars. I doubt that made it to the front page. And their on-going research into ozone treatment and many other technical areas has greatly enriched the state of drinking water treatment technology world wide, saving many other water agencies considerable grief — and taxpayer dollars.
Another more recent project with which I was briefly involved was the construction of a treatment plant to treat treated water. No, that wasn’t a typo! Since the passage of the Surface Water Treatment Rule, the decades-old open storage reservoirs in the Hollywood Hills have been in non-compliance. The Department’s options have been to (1) abandon the reservoirs, or (2) cover the reservoirs, or (3) treat the water — again — as it leaves the reservoirs. They have had to use each of these options, assessing on a case-by-case basis which was most appropriate.
The first option could not be used on all the reservoirs, because of the critical role that reservoirs play in any water distribution system — especially one in a seismically active area, where emergency storage is vital. But homeowners — many of whom are extremely wealthy — have fought the Department’s efforts to employ either of the last two options. Finally, after many years of public involvement, a treatment plant has been built to treat water leaving Stone Canyon Reservoir. The plant is amazing, in that it is virtually invisible in the neighborhood, much of it being below ground. It emits virtually no noise; the neighbors required that the plant not increase the background noise of a summer night — less than a whisper! This cost the Department — and ultimately its customers — several million dollars, and all to placate a very small number of people living in and around the reservoir. The costs — and the herculean efforts of the Department staff — to do this never saw the front page.
In addition to these two projects, I have had the privilege of conducting training classes for hundreds of LADWP personnel over the past decade. The vast majority of them have been fine public servants and a credit to the LADWP. I’m sure that their customers would be proud of the work that they do.
They hold the distinction of being the highest paid utility workers in the world; that rightly invites scrutiny. The public deserves to get its money’s worth — it is their money, after all!
Recent news stories have alleged that some employees have been found drinking on the job, misusing credit cards, and other despicable acts. I am convinced that this is a very small number of LADWP personnel. However, as the public servants that we are in the water industry, we cannot countenance such behavior, and most of us — including me — are disgusted by it. If true, these people should be run out of our industry; we have no use for them. They are loathsome creatures that waste the public’s money and endanger the public’s health — and they sully the good name of all the true professionals in our industry.

6 Responses to LADWP — Evil, Corrupt, or Public Servants?

  1. avatar Joann silver says:

    I seen one of my naighbor take 3 hour breaks and mow his lawn, while on the LADWP time clock. This guy is corrupt has been steeling from ladwp for years and has not got caught.

    • avatar MOST says:

      There are definitely some bad eggs at LADWP. Please report this activity to LADWP. And if you don’t get a thorough investigation from them, call the LAPD! Employee like this need to be removed!

  2. avatar Randy norton says:

    Call mayor Garcetti and take plenty of pictures of him mowing his lawn. I did I called Garcetti and showed him the pics of my naught or mowing his lawn and stealing water from the hydrant in front of my house. He has not gotten fired just got a slap on the wrist and old not to come by his house and mow his lawn ny more.

    • avatar MOST says:

      Randy: The behavior you have witnessed is despicable, and that employee deserves to be fired. The IBEW is the union that represents the LADWP employees, and it is remarkably effective at protecting people like your neighbor. But keep the heat on! LADWP will be a better public servant, because of the persistence of the public — like you!

  3. avatar Lexi Stephenson says:

    My naighbor waters his lawn everyday even with this draught and he is an ladwp employee.

    • avatar Steve McLean says:

      That is sad news. Water folks should be the best examples of water conservation. I hope your neighbor has a good reason, but I can’t imagine what it is. Thanks for your comment!

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