In an ambitious move to combat water scarcity and the effects of climate change, Los Angeles County has launched a comprehensive plan to source 80% of its water needs locally by 2045. This initiative, endorsed by the County’s Board of Supervisors, places a strong emphasis on stormwater capture, representing a transformative approach in regional water management.

The L.A. County Water Plan, with its goal to augment the local water supply by an additional 580,000 acre-feet per annum by 2045, is driven by a sense of urgency. This urgency is highlighted in a report from the National Resources Defence Council (NRDC), which points out that currently, a mere 40% of the county’s and 20% of the city’s water needs are met locally. The strategy of relying on imported water is becoming increasingly unsustainable, particularly in light of the challenges posed by climate-induced water shortages and reliability issues.

The execution of this plan signifies a substantial increase in the county’s water reserves, estimated at approximately 162 billion gallons. This increment is sufficient to cater to an additional 5 million residents of the county. The shift towards a proactive, self-sufficient water management strategy is a response to the severe droughts that have plagued the county over the past decade, particularly the extreme drought periods from 2012 to 2016 and from 2021 to 2022.

One of the plan’s critical goals is to ensure 100% water sufficiency in the county, even during drought periods. Supervisor Lindsey Horvath has stressed the importance of this initiative. She has cited the need to conserve and reuse every drop of water in our increasingly dry region. As Horvath points out, with the growing unreliability and escalating costs of imported water resources due to climate change, maximizing the use of stormwater is imperative.

OkYG0clucsUoW71F6NLWpvkZpGCc3uFC Ix7m2o6VLQ1uO5tA9zLJjonC2GdHIPHNY 6Ky3pED2PJX7ALz2TkXSEj xdqH3 PbdipfgFVVT2lAwJKY040Ad94XLnwrleHKt1YsawzorRLCwrCoTdXBk

The plan is comprehensive, encompassing 14 strategies to increase stormwater capture and boost the local water supply. These strategies range from promoting water conservation and improving drought preparedness to leveraging the potential of groundwater storage. Other key areas include making the pumping and treatment of groundwater more cost-effective and managing environmental factors like invasive species and wildfires. These, and many other factors, can have a severe impact on water supply and quality.

Annelisa Moe, Associate Director of Science and Policy at Heal The Bay, underscores the vision of transforming the entire county into a water-absorbing sponge. This involves large-scale projects as well as smaller, localized initiatives to allow water infiltration into the ground.

Furthermore, this plan tackles the issue of equitable access to safe water. Several water agencies within the county, many serving low-income communities, are either failing or at risk of failing. This disparity in water access is a significant concern. The plan aims to foster collaboration among these agencies to improve drought resilience and achieve water self-sufficiency across all communities in the county.

This ambitious action taken by Los Angeles County goes beyond being a strategy. It represents a framework for managing water fairly. Through the increase of water sources and reducing dependence on water supplies the county is not only tackling immediate climate change and drought challenges but also establishing a precedent for future water resource management.

If successful, the L.A. County Water Plan could become a blueprint for addressing challenges in regions. While undoubtedly encountering obstacles along the way, this plan instills hope for a secure water future for the residents of Los Angeles County.