Los Angeles is running out of water, and time. Are leaders willing to act?
On March 13th, 2017, Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell announced, as he has for the past two years, that city water was no longer available to the public as a result of budget cuts to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
The City of Los Angeles spent $2.6 billion to build the second largest water system in the world, which was originally supposed to be completed in 2000. Instead, it has been in continuous use since its first connection to the city in the late 1800s. As a result, the system now uses up to 50 percent more water than it was originally designed to supply.
Due to the city’s failure to manage the water system properly, which is caused by decades of neglect, billions of dollars have been spent to repair and replace aging infrastructure, and to build new infrastructure without consideration for how to make this infrastructure more efficient, more useful, and more cost-effective.
And while water is one of the most important resources we have, if it becomes scarce, it impacts all of us.
As a result of this water shortage, we have seen a serious decline in the quality of life. Over the course of the last three years, Los Angeles has been forced to cut city services by millions of dollars, including the LAPD, LAX, USC, and the LA County Sheriff’s Department, which, in this context, is a tragedy on every level. At the same time, L.A. is forced to impose higher fees on businesses, individuals, and households, and to cut essential services. This crisis is particularly critical for the city’s low-income population.
In short, we’re all facing the equivalent of the “third world”.
And the lack of water is the last straw.
On March 13, for the first time ever, Los Angeles has been forced to declare a state of emergency, and to use all available resources to prevent a widespread failure in water infrastructure, and to restore critical services.