LOS ANGELES — Over the next two decades, Los Angeles County will collect billions more gallons in water from local sources, especially storm and reclaimed water, shifting from its reliance on other region’s water supplies as the effects of climate change make such efforts less reliable and more expensive.
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday adopted the county’s first water plan, which outlines how America’s largest county must stop importing 60% of its water and pivot over the next two decades to sourcing 80% of its water locally by 2045.
The plan calls for increasing local water supply by 580,000 acre-feet per year by 2045 through more effective stormwater capture, water recycling and conservation. The increase would be roughly equivalent to 162 billion gallons, or enough water for 5 million additional county residents, county leaders said.
“We need to conserve every drop of water possible for beneficial reuse by reducing demand, by recycling our water, by capturing much more stormwater in our natural aquifers. And I know that the public is watching to make sure we do exactly that,” said Board Chair Lindsey P. Horvath. “As climate change makes our important water resources less reliable and more expensive, I would like to see the majority of our stormwater be diverted for beneficial reuse rather than washed out to the ocean where it pollutes our coast.”
The development of the county’s water plan started in 2019 when former L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl authored a motion that created the county’s sustainability plan and paved the wave for a water plan.
Horvath, her successor, closed the loop Tuesday on her first day as board chair with her motion to implement the plan. At 41, Horvath is the youngest person to serve as board chair.
Mark Pestrella, L.A. County Department of Public Works director, said pivoting the county from a long history of importing water “is aspirational, but it is actually achievable.”
There are at least 200 independent water districts or agencies in L.A. County responsible for delivering safe, clean water, and Pestrella said the plan was aimed at fostering collaboration.
In 2020, the county asked each for input and also held 90 stakeholder meetings over three years with local and tribal leaders, community members and advocate groups, Pestrella said.
Most of the 200 agencies are on record agreeing to adopt the county water plan.
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