LADWP to help improve water quality in Baja, Mexico

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is the first California water utility to join forces with two water agencies in Mexico in a new statewide initiative aimed at enhancing the quality of water service in Baja California.

LOS ANGELES, July 17, 2003 -- The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is the first California water utility to join forces with two water agencies in Mexico in a new statewide initiative aimed at enhancing the quality of water service in Baja California.

LADWP is taking a leadership role in Hands Across the Border, a cooperative program proposed by the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) to exchange technical information about water quality, operations and distribution, as well as to foster relationships between water utilities in California and Mexico.

Through the initiative, LADWP will host and provide a five-day training program, slated July 21 through July 25, for four water utility professionals from Tecate and Mexicali in Baja California. A leader in the treatment and distribution of drinking water, LADWP designed a curriculum tailored to the needs of its Baja sister water agencies, and will conduct the training at its state-of-the-art Los Angeles Aqueduct Filtration Plant in Sylmar.

"I'm proud that LADWP is stepping up to share its expertise in water quality and distribution with water agency officials in Mexico," Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn said.

"The City of Los Angeles and Baja California have much to gain by strengthening our ties. Any process that improves the social and economic well being of a neighbor on either side of the border will boost the quality of life for the entire region.

"By participating in Hands Across the Border, LADWP will help our neighbors to better manage and treat their water supplies to benefit public health of the people in Mexico," Hahn said. "This is an important opportunity to develop a stronger relationship with our close neighbor and one of our largest trading partners."

Hands Across the Border is an excellent opportunity for LADWP to provide water quality education and technology assistance that "will go a long way to target the reduction of water-borne diseases, which is a fundamental and extremely cost-effective tool that can only improve the public health picture for both sides of the border," said LADWP General Manager David H. Wiggs.

"An additional benefit of this program is that we are training the trainers. The Mexicali and Tecate water system professionals will take this knowledge back to Mexico to train additional personnel in their respective water systems," Wiggs said. LADWP will provide videotapes of the entire training session in Los Angeles for the participants to use as an educational tool to train others back in Mexico.

LADWP's Hands Across the Border training will focus on the treatment and distribution of drinking water and cover topics such as water quality monitoring and sampling, filtration and disinfection, flushing the water system, water fluoridation, and water distribution system planning. In addition to classroom instruction and tours of the filtration plant, the participants will receive hands-on training in collecting water samples and visit Cabrillo Beach Aquarium to observe how LADWP serves one of its customers.

To provide the most useful education, LADWP sent four staff members to visit Tecate and Mexicali to gather information about those agencies' water systems and evaluate their training needs. The water utilities in Mexico are operated by the Water State Commission of Public Services (or Comision Estatal de Servicios Publicos de Tecate y Mexicali). The water system in Mexicali serves about 800,000 people, while Tecate is much smaller, providing water services to about 80,000 people.

The water quality in Baja varies dramatically on any given day, depending on distribution maintenance and testing protocols, said Steve Hall, executive director of ACWA. "The biggest area of advice we can provide Baja water utilities is quality assurance and quality control," Hall said.

Hall praised LADWP for being a leader in Hands Across the Border. When ACWA put out the word asking for California water utilities to assist the program, "LADWP stepped up immediately and put forth the first curriculum, which happens to be one of the region's most critical areas of need." Hall said two other California water agencies would also provide trainings for water utility professionals in Tijuana and Ensenada, focusing on laboratory water quality testing and water system construction.

LADWP will sponsor the training through in-kind support, including development of the curriculum, program coordination and training sessions. LADWP also is providing meals, local transportation, housing, and a weekly per diem for each trainee while they are in Los Angeles. The participating Mexico agencies are providing transportation to California, wages and salaries for trainees. The trainees themselves are responsible for disseminating new knowledge, information and skills to their home agencies.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was established more than 100 years ago to provide a reliable and safe water and electric supply to the City's businesses and residents.

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