LA Mayor Gets Tough for Water Future
Unveiling a plan to ensure water continues to flow in Los Angeles, Calif., despite a worsening outlook, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on May 15 laid out an aggressive conservation and unprecedented water recycling program.
"L.A.'s future depends on our willingness to adopt an ethic of sustainability. If we don't commit ourselves to conserving and recycling water, we will tap ourselves out," said Villaraigosa.
"This plan makes a basic promise to our kids: We are going to recycle and conserve enough water to meet 100 percent of new demand."
By 2030, the population of Los Angeles is expected to jump by 500,000 people, according to the Southern California Association of Governments, pushing up water demand in the city by 100,000 acre-feet per year, or 15 percent.
The plan calls for the first real enforcement of city water restrictions since the early 1990s, dishing penalties to residents who water lawns during prohibited hours and restaurants that serve water to customers who have not requested it.
On the technology side, the plan – "Securing LA's Water Supply" – shifts the city's focus from promoting efficient indoor plumbing to the outdoors, where Angeleno families use 30 to 40 percent of their water.
Laying out a series of incentives for businesses and families to reduce water use, the plan introduces a new program to distribute free "smart sprinklers" to every home in Los Angeles.
Together, these steps to conserve water will balance out half of the expected 15 percent jump in water demand by 2030. The remaining 50 percent of water demand will be met by the city's first wide-scale plan for water recycling.
Raising the amount of water it purifies for recycling by six-fold by 2019, the L.A. Department of Water and Power will expand its existing "purple pipe" system (distributing water for irrigation and industrial uses) and will flesh out a "groundwater replenishment" water-recycling program.
"This is a bold and visionary strategy for securing L.A.'s water supply today and in the future by developing a locally sustainable water supply," said David Nahai, department chief executive officer and general manager.
Representing a more than $1.5 billion investment in infrastructure and conservation programs, the plan will be funded by a combination of fees on industrial polluters, grants, and department funds already budgeted for the plan.