Los Angeles is running out of water, and time. Are leaders willing to act?
The crisis here is long term, driven by an aging and growing population and dwindling water supplies, experts say. With 20% of the world’s population living in a city of 10 million residents, Los Angeles could have to dig deeper wells to meet the needs of its growing population. But city leaders also have a chance to change the debate around what is being done to address water shortages in this fast-changing planet.
“There are a lot of people in Los Angeles who feel like this is the big one,” says City Council member Bob Blumenfield, who represents the 7th District. “I have this concern that this will become the next natural disaster.”
City leaders have proposed a $700 million water bond and have allocated $200 million for conservation efforts so they can plan for a drought in the next half decade. But the city also has begun the process of selling the largest portion of the Aqueduct water system to pay for the water purchases.
Los Angeles is the third largest supplier of water to the U.S. and the 10th largest water consumer (after Phoenix, Tucson and San Diego). In a recent report, the U.S. Geological Survey found: the City of Los Angeles had the least amount of water to be drawn from the aquifer. This means the city is running out of water over the next 25 years.
“We won’t be able to take water away from the city,” says council member Mike Bonin, who represents the 5th District. “We’re going to get to the point where we’re out of water. That’s hard to swallow.”
“We have to get to more water efficiency,” he continues. “It’s not just conservation.”
For a city with no water supply, the question many ask is why the city hasn’t been more proactive about making water more efficient.
“You have to do it in an organized way and it doesn’t have to be top down,” says Bonin, who authored the city’s first comprehensive water policy since the 1960s. “We can do