Los Angeles Times Articles Highlight Findings of Luskin Center’s LA County Community Water Systems Atlas and Policy Guide

Los Angeles Times Articles Highlight Findings of Luskin Center’s LA County Community Water Systems Atlas and Policy Guide

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Wed, 06/03/2015 - 9:10am

Los Angeles Times reporters Ron-Gong Lin II and Priya Krishnakumar wrote two separate articles in May highlighting findings of the Los Angeles County Community Water Systems Atlas and Policy Guide Volume I. This Luskin Center report presents a high-level view of the drinking water systems that serve LA County based on in-depth, system-level profiles of water supply vulnerabilities. The first article spotlighted the Center’s findings that regions of LA County will experience a dramatic increase in extreme heat days, and as a result see increases in residential and agricultural water demand. The second article focused on the extent of groundwater contamination in LA County, and the water systems that rely heavily on contaminated groundwater as a source of drinking water.

Specifically, the first Los Angeles Times article on May 14th reported that some water utilities in LA County will experience over a month of additional extreme heat days by 2050. The original downscaled climate predictions were developed by a team of scientists in UCLA Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, and subsequently aggregated to the community water system level by the Luskin Center. Water Atlas report author Henry McCann of the Luskin Center used residential landscaping as an example of how increasing temperatures will drive water demand, saying “we know that most residential water use in Southern California is for irrigating landscapes and lawns. During a drought, high temperatures drive up the thirst of plants” used in that landscaping.

The Los Angeles Times article that followed on May 23rd highlighted the Luskin Center findings that most of the LA County’s water systems rely at least partially on contaminated groundwater wells, while a select few are heavily dependent on contaminated groundwater wells. The Luskin Center’s findings were developed from a 2013 State Water Resources Control Board report titled “Communities that Rely on a Contaminated Groundwater Source for Drinking Water.” Given the expressed objective of developing local water sources by cities like Los Angeles and Santa Monica, the findings show that relying more heavily on local contaminated groundwater sources may incur significant treatment costs, and additional greenhouse gas emissions.

Over a third of the water systems serving LA County (79 out of 228 water systems) are 100% dependent on groundwater, an indicator of vulnerability because water systems that rely solely on groundwater may exhaust critical supplies during droughts, are challenged by the presence of local contamination, and have fewer supply alternatives compared to systems with a diversified water supply portfolio. Most of these systems serve small communities in northern LA County, where groundwater withdrawals are not regulated.

Overall, the Water Atlas revealed that 75% of community drinking water systems in LA County exhibit at least one indicator of supply vulnerability due either to dependency on a single type of water source, local groundwater contamination, small size, or a projected increase in extreme heat days over the coming decades.

Los Angeles Times reporters Ron-Gong Lin II and Priya Krishnakumar wrote two separate articles in May highlighting findings of the Los Angeles County Community Water Systems Atlas and Policy Guide Volume I. This Luskin Center report presents a high-level view of the drinking water systems that serve LA County based on in-depth, system-level profiles of water supply vulnerabilities.