Los Angeles is running out of water, and time. Are leaders willing to act?
For years, Los Angeles County government has taken steps to address the state’s most pressing water crisis. But, like many environmental issues, solutions may not be found until all hands are on board — including those of the leaders who set the goal to achieve a sustainable future.
Los Angeles County’s chief executive, Alex Padilla-Sweet, and its top elected officials seem to be moving fast to bring water issues into the political realm. But some of the key agencies are lagging.
By now, it’s the time of year when L.A. County leaders — including a series of mayors, county executives and a host of local leaders with backgrounds in the water business — are gathered together in advance of the annual Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting.
In a rare public appearance last week at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced he had launched a program that would include the California State Water Resources Control Board, the California Department of Water Resources, the Bureau of Reclamation and the California Highway Commission.
This week, the board met to discuss a proposal, first proposed by Padilla-Sweet, to create a Los Angeles County Office of Public and Water Affairs to focus on the state’s water issues. To qualify, the council would have to approve the plan, which would need a two-thirds vote.
It’s unclear whether they will approve it — or at least not oppose it.
Los Angeles County has about 20 million residents and more than 300 square miles of territory. It includes many of the state’s most critical water resources and has the fourth-largest water supply system in the country.
The county board’s most pressing water issues are those directly related to one of the largest desalination plants in the world that supplies much of L.A. County’s water, and the drought that has made California’s water system largely unavailable to residents. But the board has another concern: the county’s ability to provide water to its residents, as well as its ability to provide enough water for the local economy.
In the past two years, the board has considered several proposals