WHITTIER >> Half a million people rest eternally under 700 acres of Rose Hills Memorial Park, the largest cemetery in the United States. Just keeping the grass green — a business priority — once required 293 million gallons of potable water a year, as much used in several cities.
On Wednesday, the cemetery put an end to irrigating lawns with drinking water. Thanks to a change in state law prompted by the drought, Rose Hills will use 100 percent recycled water on its sprawling grounds and in decorative fountains by the end of the year, saving enough drinking water for 2,000 to 3,000 homes.
The all-recycling effort began 23 years ago, when the cemetery signed an agreement with the nearby Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts to bring waste water treated to advanced levels up the hill in a separate delivery system of “purple pipes.” In the last decade, the meandering cemetery along the base of the Puente Hills pushed ahead and will go from using 60 percent reclaimed water to 100 percent after construction is completed on the final phase located within the cemetery’s original, 101-year-old section.