Los Angeles County Community Water Systems: Atlas and Policy Guide

Los Angeles County Community Water Systems: Atlas and Policy Guide

Gregory Pierce and Henry McCann
Supply Vulnerabilities, At-Risk Populations, Conservation Opportunities, Pricing Policies, and Customer Assistance Programs

Despite the essential role water plays in Los Angeles County, surprisingly little is known about our community water systems. Community water systems are the fundamental building blocks of California’s water supply network. These systems are responsible for providing households, businesses, and governments with a reliable supply of clean water at a reasonable price. They are on the front lines of adapting to drought and climate change. They manage lifeline programs for the County’s many low-income households. These systems are the portals through which federal, state, and regional officials implement water policies supporting water supply reliability, conservation, efficiency, affordability, environmental protection, and public health. Our analysis of these systems can be used to directly inform state-wide initiatives formed to address pressing drinking water concerns, such as emergency assistance efforts, the Water Energy Technology program, the recently-legislated Low Income Water Assistance Program and the work of the office of Sustainable Water Solutions.

Few people know that Los Angeles County currently has 228 community water systems. Each community water system is mapped in the Gazetteer on page 70. As we show, they vary dramatically in their size, geography, the types of communities they serve, and their technical, managerial, and financial capacities: ranging from a mobile home park of twenty-five residents in Antelope Valley to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power with nearly four million customers. Every community water system has adopted one of eight governance structures, which are governed by five distinct bodies of state law. Adding to this complexity, smaller water systems are often exempted from statewide water conservation and consumption reporting regulations. As a result, federal and state oversight and knowledge of these community water systems is fragmented and often limited.

By providing this Atlas and Policy Guide we seek to improve policymakers’ understanding of the population of community water systems within Los Angeles County and to provide a data resource for future researchers.

In order to advance the policy discussion and provide a resource for researchers studying drinking water systems in Los Angeles County, we are also providing the data used in this analysis to the public. The data is attached below in two Excel files and one zip drive. One Excel file contains the full data collected for each system. The other Excel file contains a codebook of system-wise variables for each system. The zipped folder contains the GIS shapefile used for spatial analysis and visualization in the Atlas. The full data file and the shapefile can be joined using the pwsid variable code.

Read the full report here.

Download Atlas data files here.