Author: Jerry

Los Angeles’s Water System Isn’t Working

Los Angeles’s Water System Isn’t Working

L.A.’s quest for water leaves costly bill: Higher rates for customers, choking air pollution, and the loss of businesses

Los Angeles, Calif.—After six thirsty years, Angelenos are demanding enough water to serve 20 Olympic-size swimming pools every day, and at a cost of at least $120 billion.

The problem is that L.A. has more than 1.5 million people, and more than 50 million people live in the state. That means L.A.’s entire population gets only about 15,000 gallons of water per day. Many of the residents in L.A.’s inland areas rely on rainwater for their water, so there’s a real challenge here: getting enough rain to support a daily water supply.

Even though Los Angeles has the third-largest water system in the country, it consumes far more than it can afford. The water supply is a public resource; it belongs to the people of L.A. But people can’t use the system very long without the taxpayers paying more for water.

And when the taxpayers pay more, they’re often asked to pay even more—because water is not distributed equally.

Los Angeles has been spending more than $8 billion a year to expand its water system since the 1970s. But the city has only managed to expand its water system by a few miles a year. It’s been building the system in the wrong places, and it’s always paid for the water it’s been receiving.

Meanwhile, L.A. has had to deal with air pollution and dangerous levels of lead in the water, which has led to the closure of countless businesses and homes. There are some signs that things may get better: The city’s water system experienced its first “normal” year in 25 years in 2007, when rainfall was up a little and reservoirs were filled to just about their maximum. Still, it’s unclear if there’s any hope of the city reaching its target, which is 14 units of water per person per day

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