Supes Adopt Vision for County’s Water Future

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Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted the Los Angeles County Water Plan, outlining a path to achieve a resilient water future for all Los Angeles County residents. Board Chair Lindsey P. Horvath also introduced a motion with actions to implement the plan, and to increase the local water supply by 600,000-acre feet by 2045 through stormwater capture, water recycling, and conservation strategies.

“Water is our most precious natural resource, especially as cycles of drought, wildfire, and flooding threaten our region’s water supply,” said Chair Lindsey P. Horvath. “The Los Angeles County Water Plan is the first comprehensive planning document that articulates a shared, inclusive, regional path forward to sustainably and equitably achieve safe, clean, and reliable water resources for all Los Angeles County residents. With this plan in place, we must work regionally to implement it and reduce our reliance on imported water.” 
 
Despite the historic rainfall amounts received during the 2022-23 water year, many of the region’s groundwater basins are still over-drafted or stressed, and some of the most vulnerable communities lack access to safe, reliable water supplies. The County Water Plan is a living document to address these challenges developed by Los Angeles County Public Works with input from water agencies, tribes, and a wide range of municipal and nonprofit stakeholders.
 
“This plan comes at a critical time for the Los Angeles County region,” said Mark Pestrella, Director of LA County Public Works. “Three years of drought followed by a year of intense rainfall along with other significant stressors—including polluted groundwater basins, aging infrastructure, and lack of access to safe, clean and reliable water supplies in vulnerable communities—clearly demonstrate our region’s vulnerability to the weather impacts driven by climate change and the urgent need to boost resilience.”

The plan aims for sound stewardship of our water resources that uplifts all communities by focusing on four key focal areas where new or additional regional collaboration can add value.  

  • Regional Water Supply Reliability: Improving regional water supply reliability by better leveraging our collective local and imported water resources and infrastructure.  
  • Groundwater Management and Quality:Realizing our shared groundwater management opportunities by sharing expertise and resources to maintain water quality and availability. 
  • Small, At-Risk System Resilience and Drinking Water Equity: Ensuring a consistently high standard of water service for everyone in Los Angeles County by providing regional support for small systems, with focused attention to underserved communities. 
  • Watershed Sediment Management: Mitigating the impacts of wildfire on our water supplies through coordinated efforts between land and water managers.  

“The County Water Plan is a detailed blueprint for weaning greater L.A. from its historical reliance on imported sources of water,” said Rita Kampalath, LA County’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “By investing in increased water recycling and runoff capture, we are investing in local systems that are more reliable, more resilient and less energy intensive.”

The County Water Plan leverages existing efforts like Los Angeles County’s Our County Sustainability Plan, the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, the LA River Master Plan, and Metropolitan Water District’s Integrated Water Resources Plan to facilitate integrated solutions to key water management issues through collaboration with water agencies, stakeholders, and members of the public.

“LADWP supports the goals and strategies of the LA County Water Plan as they align well with our efforts towards a resilient water future,” said Martin Adams, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power General Manager and Chief Engineer. “From increased efforts in long standing programs like water conservation and stormwater capture, to new strategies like using advanced treated recycled water for groundwater recharge, we look forward to collaborating closely with our partners to enhance the region’s water resilience in a sustainable and equitable manner.

In addition to adopting the plan, Chair Horvath’s adopted motion calls for implementation steps to ensure the vision articulated in the plan becomes a reality. These action items include:

  • Convening a Water Resiliency Summit with water agencies and stakeholders;
  • Creating and leading a Task Force to coordinate water conservation and drought preparedness communications and education Countywide with waterforla.com as the hub;
  • Establishing a Blue Ribbon panel to develop standards for nature-based water management solutions;
  • Convening a meeting of environmental and sustainability policy deputies from each Board Office, including appropriate staff from the Chief Sustainability Office, Public Works, and other relevant Departments; and
  • Reporting back to the Board in writing in six months with funding needs and opportunities to achieve the goals of the Water Plan, including grants partnerships with other water agencies.
  • “NRDC strongly commends Chair Horvath and the Board of Supervisors for strengthening and approving the County’s Water Plan,” said Dr. Mark Gold, NRDC director of water scarcity solutions. “Climate resiliency in LA County takes leadership, vision, and resources and the Water Plan is a critical initial step to transform LA County to 80% local water by 2045 in a manner that provides equitable benefits to all, and makes our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters safe for people and marine life.”
  • For more information on the County Water Plan and other water initiatives, including water conservation tips, visit WaterForLA.com

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