07.17.2018 | 5 min read

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors has decided to move forward with a plan for a smarter L.A. water system.

Here’s how it would work:


1. A new plan for L.A.’s water system would help to capture the billions of gallons of water we lose each year.

Every year, we lose billions of gallons of water. This isn’t water that’s being wasted by people taking long showers. It’s water we’re not capturing in the first place, like the rain that falls onto our streets and parking lots and runs right into the ocean.

Capturing this water would greatly increase the county’s local water supply and make the entire region more sustainable for decades to come.

If we get smart about implementing a series of stormwater projects across the county, using a combination of nature, science, and new technology, it’s estimated that we could triple the amount of rain we currently capture.



2. It would help protect our coastal waters and beaches from the trash and contaminants that make people sick and threaten marine life.

Every day in L.A.—and especially when it rains—trash and contaminants pollute our waterways and ocean, making people sick and killing marine life. Paved-over and flood-prone communities are especially at risk of exposure to contaminants found in stormwater runoff. It’s also the reason why beaches are closed during heavy rains.

A smarter water program wouldn’t just mean more local water—it would also mean safer water for the entire region. By capturing and cleaning the rain before it has a chance to pick up contaminants, we would reduce the risk that dirty, polluted runoff poses to our communities and the marine life that call our region home.



3. It would modernize our 100-year-old water system infrastructure.

Much of our one-hundred-year-old infrastructure wasn’t designed to capture stormwater. In fact, we end up wasting more than 100 billion gallons of it—along with other water—every year. That’s a big deal in a county that imports two-thirds of its water from hundreds of miles away.

The Safe Clean Water Program would fund projects and programs that capture and clean that rainwater, so we can save it for future use.



4. It would protect public health, ensuring safer, greener, and healthier spaces for all.

The neighborhoods with the most pavement, which tend to be underserved, are also the most vulnerable to the negative health effects of extreme heat.

The Safe Clean Water Program would address health inequities in L.A. County by boosting investment in underserved communities and involving community groups in decisions about what projects to fund.

Regardless of where you live, the Safe Clean Water Program would improve L.A. County by making public spaces safer, greener, and healthier.



5. It would prepare our region for the effects of a changing climate — including recurring cycles of drought, wildfire, and flooding.

We’re living in an era of extreme weather. After five years of drought, 2017 was the second wettest year in more than a century, but our 100-year-old system lets most of that rain wash away. The Safe Clean Water Program would allow us to capture more of the water during wet seasons to save for our dry ones.

It would also help us better cope with the effects of extreme heat waves, which can be deadly for children and the elderly. By building more green spaces, we could combat the “urban heat island effect,” which causes overly-paved parts of the county to become unbearably hot during the summer months and puts lives at risk.



6. It would have strict community oversight and independent auditing which would ensure local funds raised would stay local.

The goal of the new program is to increase L.A. County’s local water supply, improve water quality, and protect public health. The plan is designed with safeguards to make sure that happens.

An independent review board would oversee the Program to ensure funds stay local to improve water quality and increase supply. The plan also requires independent audits at all levels, from the district to individual projects, to make sure it’s working and the money isn’t being wasted. The progress report results would be posted online, so anyone could check the Program’s progress.