Metro is actively monitoring water use and finding new ways to increase conservation efforts. As a responsible steward of water resources, Metro continues to develop additional water use reduction strategies focused on technical improvements and behavioral change at Metro while developing partnerships with key regional stakeholders to build a more resilient LA County.
While water conservation and efficiency remain priorities for Metro, water reclamation, reuse and sustainable stormwater management will be equally critical components of Metro's water strategy through 2030. Our targets and commitments related to water reflect the full water cycle, recognizing that the ways in which Metro procures, consumes, processes and disposes of water have regional impacts that can affect both the supply and quality of our regional water resources.
Rail-to-Rail: Enhancing Water Quality by Rethinking the Right-of-Way
Metro supports water resiliency for the Los Angeles region beyond conservation and efficiency projects. Water capture, infiltration and reuse are critical strategies for augmenting local water supply and protecting water quality within our communities, particularly those with heavy traffic and high concentrations of pollutants. Metro’s Rail–to–Rail/River Active Transportation Corridor project was designed to fully embrace sustainable water management strategies to deliver forward-thinking environmental benefits for the region, while providing transportation and mobility improvements for neighboring communities.
Rail–to–Rail will create a 5.6-mile active transportation corridor in South Los Angeles, including new east-west bike and pedestrian paths to connect two major Metro transit lines – the Metro A Line (Blue) and the future Crenshaw/LAX Line. While the project’s primary purpose is to provide safety and access improvements for the residents who currently use this route to travel to work, school and local services, Metro recognized this as a key opportunity to provide regional water quality and water supply benefits through the installation of sustainable stormwater management infrastructure by converting an underutilized railroad right-of-way into a multi-purpose transportation corridor.
Metro successfully secured $8.425 million in 2020 through LA County’s Safe, Clean Water Program created by the passage of Measure W in 2018. The grant will enable installation of 161 stormwater management features, including infiltration and bioretention planters and dry wells to capture and filter stormwater, allowing water to infiltrate into the subsoils and recharge the groundwater aquifer.
Landscaped areas will use native and drought-tolerant trees and plants, strategically placed to intercept stormwater and prevent pollutants from entering the LA River and Pacific Ocean. Sustainable stormwater features are expected to recharge local water supplies at a rate of over three million gallons per year, while providing shade to reduce the heat island effect.
Partnerships to Advance a Water Positive Future
Metro is leveraging its countywide reach to develop strategic partnerships and water resource projects to achieve our regional water management goals. Over the past two years, Metro has coordinated with several agencies and community partners, including the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP), the Los Angeles Sanitation and Environment Department, Climate Resolve and the Council for Watershed Health to identify and develop projects that will advance Metro goals, while realizing regional water quality and supply benefits.
The 18-mile-long Metro G Line (Orange) typically accounts for about 20% of Metro’s total water use, making it a prime location for impactful water conservation and efficiency efforts. Additionally, the G Line overlays the San Fernando Valley Groundwater Basin, one of the highest value groundwater recharge areas in the county.
In 2019 and 2020, Metro made significant strides on projects that will make the G Line an example of sustainable water management for the region. Since 2019, Metro has partnered with LADWP and the City of Burbank Water and Power to connect sections of the G Line (Orange) to the city’s recycled water system to offset potable water use for landscaping irrigation. One section is connected, and a second section is underway. This project, slated for completion in 2021, is expected to reduce Metro’s annual potable water consumption and significantly contribute to achieving our 2030 water reduction goal.
During this same timeframe, Metro began conceptual design work for a proposed network of 168 drywells along the G Line (Orange) to capture, treat and infiltrate stormwater runoff from 2,300 acres of land, across seven sites along the right-of-way and parking lots, infiltrating it back into local aquifers. If installed, this project would recharge the San Fernando Groundwater Basin at a rate of 890 acre-feet per year (over 290 million gallons). This effort alone would make Metro net-water positive, meaning that we contribute more water to groundwater recharge efforts annually than we use to support our operations.
These projects will produce long-term benefits to the region by protecting local water resources and increasing the amount of water that safely infiltrates into soil, replenishing local groundwater resources.
Finding Water Efficiencies Through Innovation
Metro aims to reduce potable water use by 22% from the 2030 business as usual scenario through renewed focus and innovation. For over a decade, Metro has taken proactive steps to reduce potable water consumption. Between 2013 and 2019, Metro reduced water consumption by 39% through a combination of conservation efforts, system enhancements and efficiency upgrades. While these successes were a strong start, there is still work to be done to protect LA County’s limited water supply.
Analysis of water use in 2019 and 2020 showed the dust collection system at the Division 30 bus central maintenance facility used approximately 9,000 gallons of potable water every 24 hours. This system, intended to collect, transport, filter and contain fine particulates, is critical to improving air quality for employees and preventing fine dust from contaminating electrical and mechanical components. However, the existing system was inefficient and no longer effective.
In 2020, Metro initiated construction on a new and improved dust collection system that uses no water and is designed to capture 90% of the dust generated by maintenance activities. The new system is expected to reduce potable water use by over 6,000,000 gallons and electricity consumption by 211,864 kilowatt-hours annually.
This project is one example of how Metro’s adoption of innovative technologies is delivering triple bottom line benefits and advancing environmental goals, while contributing to a healthy and cost-effective operating environment.
Understanding This Target
This target measures Metro’s use of utility-provided potable water for domestic plumbing, irrigation, cleaning systems and other operational processes. Metro’s water consumption is expected to increase in the coming years as transit and facility expansion projects are completed. Therefore, performance of this target is measured against a 2030 “Business as Usual” (BAU) scenario in which Metro takes no further action to reduce potable water use. Without this additional action, planned system growth is projected to increase Metro’s overall water consumption by 38% by 2030 compared to 2018 levels. However, through the implementation of potable water conservation and efficiency measures, Metro strives to reduce actual water consumption by 22% compared to the 2030 BAU scenario, allowing us to grow and provide additional services to the region while being good stewards of LA's precious water resources.
Potable water consumption declined by 11% in 2020. While some of this decline is the result of reduced operations and service, significant reductions in certain locations are a direct reflection of Metro’s water efficiency upgrades over the last few years. 2020 was the first full year that the weather-based irrigation controllers along the G Line were operational. As a result, the Metro G Line (Orange) achieved a 18.7% reduction in potable water consumption in 2020 compared to 2019. Our total consumption of potable water in 2020 was 50 million gallons lower than our 2020 goal, meaning we are well on our way to achieving our 22% reduction goal by 2030.
Understanding This Target
This target measures Metro’s contributions to LA's regional water supply and water quality by building infrastructure to capture and infiltrate stormwater runoff. As Metro’s system grows in coming years, the agency is actively evaluating opportunities to install bioswales, permeable pavement and other nature-based solutions to reduce stormwater runoff and increase infiltration capacity along rail alignments and highways, and near current and forthcoming facilities. These systems produce long-term water supply benefits by safely infiltrating stormwater into the soil and replenishing groundwater sources and local aquifers. They also provide water quality improvements through filtration features that capture and prevent pollutants from entering land and water ecosystems and harming wildlife. Systemwide, these projects have the potential to make Metro net water positive, meaning that we contribute more water to groundwater recharge efforts than we use to support our operations annually. As a new target, Metro’s capacity to capture and infiltrate stormwater will be measured against a 2020 baseline.
In 2020, Metro initiated a survey of its existing stormwater capture and infiltration infrastructure to quantify capacity and establish a baseline for measuring performance in future years. The baselining study will be completed in 2021, enabling the first round of reporting on this target during the 2022 reporting cycle. Throughout 2019 and 2020, Metro also completed design work preparing for the installation of new stormwater capture features as part of the Rail-to-Rail and Metro G Line (Orange) improvement projects. When installed, these new features will help Metro increase infiltration and capture capacity for stormwater by 15% from 2020 levels.