Los Angeles is running out of water, and time. Are leaders willing to act?
Los Angeles is so starved for water that it’s now more than half full, thanks to the latest drought.
And as a result, the city government has shut down all three of its public utilities: the water department, sewage treatment plant and public works department. All are running on water that is already at a level that will not allow them to handle the current demand.
The city has cut its water rates for residential and business customers. Residents and businesses will now pay a $35 daily fee, which includes a credit for 25 percent of their water bill.
The city is also threatening to shut down residential accounts of its public works department on June 12, when its current water contract ends. That water is drawn from the city’s reservoirs, which are already at least 85 percent full.
All of this is despite city leaders having said for years that they were planning for the worst — that drought and climate change were to blame for this problem.
Leaders promised that the city would invest in new infrastructure and water treatment plants. To meet that goal, the city now faces another serious problem. It has just three months to build two more water reservoirs, which will be enough to last for an entire year and then keep drawing water for another year.
“The current situation is just completely out of control,” said John Cotter, president of the Westside Residents Association. “It’s outrageous that they are wasting money and not taking action to solve this problem.”
City Hall is looking to tap into taxpayer money to cover the costs of the water cuts that began in July and that will continue into next summer. It wants to tap the $1.4 million it received in 2014 from the state to cover the cost of building and maintaining two new water reservoirs. It has already spent $20 million of that.
The money will not come out of the taxpayers’ pockets, but instead from the city’s general fund, which would come from Measure R, the half-cent sales tax approved by the voters in 2012. The $1.4 million would be matched with $250 million in state bonds, which would have to be repaid by the