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It’s Time to Focus on the Real Issue-preserving L.A.’s Precious Resource PDF Print E-mail
Written by Felipe Fuentes   
Thursday, 24 April 2014 07:09

When heavy rain fell on the Northeast Valley in early March, my wife and daughter placed empty trash cans outside our home to collect rainwater. In just a few hours, we had collected nearly 100 gallons of water.

As the storm continued for three more days, I wondered how much more water we could have collected for use later this spring.

The statewide drought emergency underscores the need to take advantage of such opportunities to bolster our local water supply. Los Angeles currently imports 88 percent of its water. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power plans to reduce its imports over the next 20 years, but in order to do so, we must develop our local water resources and be smarter about how we use water.

First, we must change our approach to water infrastructure and planning. I have been working with DWP and the Bureau of Sanitation to collaborate on the One Water Initiative, which encourages a comprehensive approach to water planning that includes wastewater, stormwater, water conservation and water re-use. Staff from these departments are reaching out to community stakeholders to develop the initiative’s guiding principles.

Next, we must increase our capacity to capture stormwater. During that four-day storm last month, enough stormwater was available to supply nearly 235,000 single-family homes with water for one year. Yet the dams, spreading grounds and other projects run by the City of Los Angeles captured just one –fifth of that amount. DWP is currently working with stakeholders to develop a master plan that will provide strategies for conservation and enhanced stormwater capture.

We must also clean up our contaminated groundwater in the San Fernando Basin. Only a quarter of the basin’s groundwater wells are currently in production due to pollution. DWP reports that the basin must be remediated within the next decade in order to prevent total loss of this resource. I will be working with DWP and other city departments to ensure that Los Angeles prioritizes cleanup efforts.

How can you be a part of the solution?

If you have a lawn, DWP will pay you $2 per square foot to replace it with drought tolerant landscaping. The program has been so effective, Angelenos have replaced 7.4 million square feet of traditional grass, saving 220 million gallons of water per year.

Also, know your watering days. If your home address ends in an odd number, you can water outdoor landscaping on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. If your address ends in an even number, your watering days are Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

Collecting and reusing rainwater from gutters and downspouts minimizes the amount of water flowing into storm drains. Southern California residents can receive a $75 rebate on rain barrels from the Metropolitan Water District.

Los Angeles has many complex water needs. Even after this week’s Earth Day celebrations are over, we must continue to focus on developing a sustainable water plan to meet our long-term needs.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Felipe Fuentes represents the Seventh District.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 April 2014 16:34