AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Burbank Mayor Jef Vander Borght has heard an earful from constituents and predicts: “The odor would be the No. 1 issue.” Los Angeles officials have outlined two alternatives for a six-mile underground line in the Southeast Valley that would help carry the 20 percent increase in sewage expected by 2020. A draft environmental impact report has been circulating for the past month, and community meetings have been held to gauge residents’ support. But late last week, days before today’s scheduled close of the comment period, City Councilman Tom LaBonge presented a third route designed to quell neighborhood concerns. His option would avoid Burbank’s historic Rancho neighborhood and lessen the impact around his own constituents in Toluca Lake. He and Councilwoman Wendy Greuel also asked that the city extend the comment period to March 31. It’s not the kind of development most residents want in their backyard, but the $150 million sewer line proposed for the San Fernando Valley has to go somewhere. With Los Angeles planning an extensive upgrade to the Valley’s 80-year-old trunk line – a project needed to handle the flushes of future generations – residents know they shouldn’t have a NIMBY attitude about it. But that doesn’t make it easier for those in the path of the proposed route between Studio City and Burbank. “We’ve all been struggling with this,” said Terry Hughes, president of the Greater Toluca Lake Neighborhood Council, whose home sits smack between the two main options. “What are the gases? Are they toxic? How smelly are they?” she said. “What we’re really searching for is clarification or specifics. Maybe we could get a ‘Geological Report for Dummies’ so the common person can understand what the impacts will be.” “It’s a very big deal. It’s important to improve the infrastructure for the future of generations of Angelenos,” LaBonge said. “It’s still not perfect, but it’s better than it was.” In addition to handling future growth, the upgrade is designed to prevent sewage overflows, such as those that plagued Los Angeles during the 1998 El Niño storms. The city is under court order to make $2 billion in sewer improvements citywide to prevent a recurrence. “We need to get to the job as quickly as possible, but if there’s a need for an extended period of time to allow comment, it’s healthy, it’s great,” said Adel Hagekhalil, the Bureau of Sanitation’s division manager for wastewater. “These sewers are important. Without having these sewers in place we will not be able to manage the flow from the Valley. Also, there’s a future risk – if these sewers aren’t built in time, we’re going to have potential impacts, potential odors, potential overflows we want to prevent. “We want to continue to be out of sight, out of mind.” For the past 80 years, the city’s trunk line has snaked from the Valley through Burbank and Glendale to the Eastside and downtown, then through Central Los Angeles and the Westside to the Pacific Ocean. At the time it went online in 1925, it was touted as the world’s longest enclosed sewer. When the Valley boomed in the 1950s, a secondary line was added from Universal City through the Santa Monica Mountains; other lines have been added since. After the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, 700 miles of Valley sewer was upgraded to repair damage, a project that continues today. Over time, the city’s sewage has doubled, from less than 200 million gallons a year in 1950 to 400 million today, with 470 million gallons expected by 2020. The Valley makes up about one-third of that. The city has slowly been rebuilding the entire trunk line, expanding it with an eight-foot-diameter pipe that should handle flow for the next 50 to 100 years. The next step is a $150 million, six-mile line through Griffith Park, then the line through the Southeast Valley. The projects are planned to be under construction by 2010, and are being funded through sewer fees on user bills. “Our sewer systems are like freeways to us,” said City Engineer Gary Lee Moore. “Unfortunately, we can’t have SigAlerts. We can’t say we have sewage floating on the streets. So we’ve got to plan ahead.” But residents worry about a number of issues. First, there’s the four years of construction, with residents forced to cope with crews digging, drilling, trucking and hauling in their neighborhoods. But even more worrisome are the long-term impacts of having a sewer line – and maybe air-treatment facilities – nearby. Residents fear the smell, the gassy fumes, the disclosure they’ll have to make to potential home buyers. In Studio City, the fight has been whether to put the terminus in Woodbridge Park or a Caltrans work yard – a decision that many have called a “no brainer.” Residents won support from Greuel for saving the park. “I understand where no one wants this underneath their soil, but if we’re going to have a sewer of this magnitude, let’s put it where it’s the least disruptive,” said the Burbank mayor, whose city relies on the Los Angeles pipes to help carry its wastewater. City officials insist the long-term problems won’t come from having the sewer as a neighbor – but from not having the new pipe. Hagekhalil explained that when pipes get too full, sewer gases get pushed to the surface, creating the foul smell in the neighborhood. Planned air-treatment facilities – 60-foot-diameter shafts located along the route – are a preventive measure, and will scrub any air that escapes before it gets out to the community. The final proposal is expected to go before the City Council this summer. “This is a project, obviously needed in our city, but we have to do it smart,” said Greuel. “I think the 30-some extra days allows us to hear about some of the other concerns raised.” Lisa Mascaro, (818) 713-3761 email@example.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!