Enough is enough

jc-mg-200-names.jpgMark Gold writes: A 90-year-old water main ruptured on Sunset Boulevard just north of UCLA yesterday. Millions of gallons of clean water practically exploded out of the rupture. Pauley Pavilion flooded, as did some parking lots, intramural sports fields, and more. All during a time when the state has nary a drop of clean water to spare.

flood-outside-ackerman_thmb.jpgNo city of LA water main should be 90 years old. What other proof do we need that the city has to invest in its water infrastructure? The city has done a great job upgrading the sewage infrastructure over the last 25 years, but the water supply infrastructure sadly is being replaced at far too slow of a pace. The scope and scale of the water main rupture in conjunction with the enormous property damage and potential for public harm should be the catalyst needed to move a substantial water rate increase forward as soon as possible.

Now is the time for the city of LA to move forward with a long-term, substantial water rate increase to generate funds for upgrading our archaic water supply infrastructure and providing new water from groundwater treatment in the San Fernando Valley, stormwater capture, and increased water recycling at a large scale--especially at the Tillman water reclamation facility. Our ongoing record drought has put the importance of conserving water at the forefront of public concerns.

A well crafted water bond with large state investments in local, sustainable water supplies, including replacing and repairing leaking and at risk conveyance infrastructure, must also be put on the ballot this November. And the measure has to have funding for increased recycling, stormwater capture, and groundwater treatment facilities.

Here are three additional factors that can lend support to moving forward with water rate increases now to solve our drought and the water conveyance infrastructure crisis:

First, thanks to California State Assembly member Anthony Rendon, Heal the Bay's Kirsten James, Governor Jerry Brown and others, AB 2403 was recently signed into law. This bill exempts stormwater captured for water supply from the onerous supermajority rate increase approval requirements under Proposition 218. This is a huge opportunity to to get the votes needed for sorely needed stormwater capture project funding. Second, the city is pretty far along in its efforts to approve and build a proposed groundwater treatment project for the North Hollywood/Toluca area. And, finally, there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the long delayed LA groundwater replenishment project that will add microfiltration/reverse osmosis to the Tillman water reclamation facility. From there, the ultra-clean water will be pumped to spreading grounds at Hansen dam and in Pacoima (providing the Army Corps does what they can to help facilitate and expedite the project in their Sepulveda Basin). Together, depending on the scale and success of these efforts, these projects could provide enough water supply for 10 percent of the city or more.

Every disaster provides the opportunity for leadership and change. Watching UCLA get flooded as I was working on campus has made me realize that our opportunity is now.

Photo courtesy of Christelle Nahas/UCLA.

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