Water and Los Angeles: Part Five
So here is what I have learned from researching this blog series on how we source our water:
It’s time for us to re-think our water consumption here in Southern California. Because, really, we don’t or won’t have much of a choice in the not too distant future. I would bet that our State and Local governments would be telling us to conserve water already if it weren’t for Covid 19 and how tired people are of being told what to do. So maybe we should bow to the inevitable and start conserving water on our own.
A good place to start is to do a water use audit on line. This will help you to see how much water your household uses in a year. Here is a VERY comprehensive tool to look at your water usage: www.Wecalc
According to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the average person in LA uses 140 gallons of water per day. About half of that is used for landscape irrigation. But really, this is just the water that comes into our home. Our total water “footprint” is much higher – about 2000 gallons per day – when you factor in the water used to produce our food, to create energy and to make the things we use. It’s a lot to think about. Sometimes I feel like my head is going to explode if I think about all the environmental consequences of everything I do. So, I prefer to start small, with things I can do in my house and garden to conserve water.
Here are some things you can do to decrease water usage inside your home:
*free aerators and shower heads are available if you are a LADWP customer. Go to WaterConservation@ladwp.com
Outside of the house, there are things you can do to decrease water use as well:
MORE ABOUT WATER LEAKS
Resources on Using Less Water:
Water and Los Angeles: Part Four
The other place we Angelenos steal our water from is the Feather River and the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta. Imported by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, this water is delivered to Southern California and San Francisco via the California State Water Project (SWP) and comprises 22 dams/reservoirs, pumping plants and 444 miles of aqueduct. The water is pumped 2000 feet over the Tehachapi Mountains to Los Angeles – quite a feat! The California State Water Project not only provides water, it generates electricity; it is also a large USER of electricity for pumping the water. 70% of the water from the SWP goes to urban Los Angeles and San Francisco, while the other 30% is used for agriculture.
So what are the environmental implications of taking water from these sources and re-routing it 500 miles to the south? Well, from what I have read, the effects on the environment don’t appear to be as devastating as they have been in the Owen’s River Valley/Mono Lake area. And the northern California rivers seem to be holding up a heck of a lot better than the poor Colorado River.
Here are some articles and websites to read about current conservation attempts in the Feather River watershed and in the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta:
Water and Los Angeles: Part Three
Water in Los Angeles is a complicated business. There are different water districts or agencies and individual municipalities that provide water for millions of people over hundreds of square miles. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power provides 197 billion gallons of water per year to the City of Los Angeles (data from 2007 – 2011). Of those millions of gallons, 29 % comes from the Los Angeles Aqueduct (Owens Lake area), 12 % comes from groundwater and 2% is recycled. The rest of the water comes from northern California – 48% - and 9% comes from the Colorado River.
The 9% of City of Los Angeles water that comes from the Colorado River is distributed by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, a regional water wholesaler. The Metropolitan Water District provides water to public water agencies and municipalities throughout Southern California, from San Diego to Ventura. The Metropolitan Water District gets its water from the Colorado River and from the Feather River in Northern California, in addition to some local supplies.
Every water district in Southern California gets its water from some combination of local and imported sources. My district, the Rubio Canyon Land and Water Association, gets water almost exclusively from the Foothill Municipal Water District (a member agency of the Metropolitan Water District) November through April, and from the Rubio Canyon and well water for the rest of the year. If you are curious about where the water you use comes from, look at your water bill and go to the website of your water agency/association.
So I wanted to share with you some interesting and concerning information about the Colorado River. This is important if you live in Southern California, because water levels in Lake Mead are already very low….and that’s where a lot of the water we use comes from. It is anticipated that with climate change these water levels will sink even more. And we are not prepared.
Take a look at this series from Yale University about the Colorado River. These articles are an eye opener.
E360 SERIES - CRISIS ON THE COLORADO
Water and Los Angeles: Part Two
For years I have been noticing the Crystal Geyser bottling plant on Highway 395 on the Eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The warehouse and the trucks are right there, with Mount Whitney looming in the background. Appropos of nothing, I am particularly attuned to this brand of bottled water because my 97-year-old mother refuses to drink anything else. Have you ever tried to get a 97-year-old person to change a habitual buying pattern? Trust me, save your breath! I feel such eco-shame every time a case of water arrives from the grocery store! I will write more later about the eco-brick project I have embarked upon to compensate for the ecological disaster that is my mother’s home.
ANYWAY….. Crystal Geyser sources it’s water from five different locations spread throughout the United States, and employs 300 people nationally. Family owned and operated, they pride themselves on being a “closed-loop” system that works hard to preserve the environment. They have a recycling plant in San Bernardino for their bottles and contribute to various charitable endeavors, including reforestation projects. Go them.
Sadly, all of these efforts and the publicity about their eco-mindedness fall pretty flat with me. There is NO NEED FOR BOTTLED WATER at all. Single use plastic is an ENORMOUS problem world-wide. I don’t care how much they recycle; think of the petroleum needed to produce the plastic, the energy required to manufacture the bottles and transport them, and the reality that nowhere near 100% of the bottles are being recycled. Add to this that all of this effort and energy is being spent on a product that is completely unnecessary. This is what is meant by GREENWASHING – talking environmentally conscious talk while continuing to produce a product that is killing the planet.
Here’s an interesting article that shows just how much Crystal Geyser cares about the planet; read this to learn about how they dealt with arsenic in the wastewater of their plant: https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/crystal-geyser-pleads-guilty-to-illegally-storing-arsenic-wastewater/2288098/
And what about the water? Snow melt provides the majority of the water Crystal Geyser “harvests” from the Sierras. How is that justifiable? The Owen’s Lake is a toxic dustbowl, the ground water of the Owens Valley has been decimated by 100 years of water redirected to the Los Angeles basin, we have had years of drought in California recently and it’s pretty clear there’s more of that to come. CALIFORNIA WATER NEEDS TO STAY IN CALIFORNIA, in our lakes, streams and aquifers, not be bottled and shipped all over the place.
I don’t know anything about the legal issues involved in water rights. But it seems to me this would be a fight worth fighting.