After touring the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURFF) last Wednesday, Benjamin Grumbles, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Water, said: “This state-of-the-art facility sends a strong message to beach lovers and communities across America; even runoff can be a resource if you get creative and stay committed. The SMURRF reduces, recycles, and reuses urban runoff to protect coasts and swimmers and conserve clean water. EPA thinks that should be the clean wave of the future.”The $10 Million SMURF at 1601 Appian Way has been in operation for five years. It was funded by the City of Santa Monica, the City of Los Angeles, the State Water Resources Control Board, the Metropolitan Water District, Federal ISTEA Grant Funds and a Los Angeles County Proposition “A” Grant. According to the City website, it “treats dry weather runoff from excessive irrigation, spills, construction sites, pool draining, car washing, the washing down of paved areas, and some wet weather runoff)” that would otherwise go directly into Santa Monica Bay through storm drains. Its goal is to keep pollutants out of the ocean and off the beach. SMURRF has a $2.5 Million distribution system, according to Craig Perkins, the City’s Director of Environmental and Public Works Administration so that the water it treats can be “reused for landscaping and other purposes” in the City, which was “the genesis of the project.” Currently, the water it treats is used to flush toilets in the Water Gardens office complex, at RAND headquarters, the City’s Public Safety Building and to irrigste landscaping in various City parks and its cemetery, as well Caltrans’ landscaping along the I-10 Freeway in Santa Monica. SMURRF removes “pollutants such as trash, sediment, oil, grease, and pathogens. Treatment processes include: coarse and fine screening to remove trash and debris, dissolved air flotation, DAF to remove oil and grease, degritting systems to remove sand and grit, and micro-filtration to remove turbidity.” The City’s Water Resource Manager Gil Balboa said during the tour that there is a grassy area that is reserved for the future if stricter regulations are put in place for recycled water so a “reverse osmosis system can be put in.” Balboa went on to say that the facility is currently processing 350,000 gallons of water per day and that its maximum capacity was about 500,000 gallons per day. The “water day lights in a number of places throughout the plant,” according to Balboa, so that one “can follow the water’s progress and see its quality improve as it goes through the process. Perkins said that SMURRF’s educational and art components include multi-color ceramic tiles and murals, two observation areas and educational panels that describe, “The problem, the solution, show a schematic of the system and describe how to prevent urban run-off.” An elevated walkway and a ramp mske the facility is accessible to the handicapped. Grumbles and the other EPA experts were in Santa Monica to attend this year’s National Water Division Director’s Meeting.
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