Environmental Advocates Raise Concerns About L.A.’s Local Water Supply

Environmental Advocates Raise Concerns About L.A.’s Local Water Supply

LA Green New Deal
Photo via EmpowerLA.org

Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles announced his Green New Deal in April 2019, which aims to create an inclusive green economy by 2050. This Sustainable City pLAn includes an accelerated ten-year timeline of aggressive action targets focused on electrifying the city, reducing building energy and sourcing 70% of L.A.’s water locally by 2035. The City’s plan to increase its local water supply comes with a caveat, according to some environmental advocates.

Samantha Bode is the documentary filmmaker behind The Longest Straw, which documents the more than 300 miles L.A.’s water supply travels from the Owens Valley across the Mojave Desert to reach L.A. Bode opposes the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) plans to increase its groundwater pumping and says it will negatively affect the people and landscapes in the Owens Valley.

“In Mayor Garcetti’s Green New Deal, he states that we will source 70 percent of all water locally by 2035. Unless LADWP is considering Payahuunadü [the Owens Valley] water as local water, this seems to be going against the Mayor’s plan,” said Bode.

“Instead of pumping more water and exporting it from Payahuunadü, the LADWP and the City of Los Angeles should be exploring more ways to capture stormwater and recycle wastewater that already exists within the 450 square miles of the City of Los Angeles.”

Mayor Garcetti’s Sustainable City pLAn mentions that “purchasing imported water uses 3 to 4 times the energy of local water sources such as groundwater and recycled water.” This groundwater refers to the water from the Owens Valley that is fed through the L.A. Aqueduct by gravity. The moving water produces hydro-electric energy making it carbon neutral, according to the pLAn.

As Bode suggests, this “local” groundwater capture is coming from more than 300 miles away, which should be monitored by oversight committees and advocacy groups.

Teri Red Owl is the executive director of the Owens Valley Indian Water Commission and attended the Standing Committee meeting between LADWP and the Inyo County Water Department (ICWD) back in May. Owl says she hasn’t seen the updated operations plan for 2020-2021 but according to ICWD, LADWP intends to pump the amount range that was in its original plan.

See the original story about the LADWP’s 2020-2021 operations plan.

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