DWP: A prescription for unreliable water and volatile pricing [Op-Art]
The DWP's frequent rate hikes have long been a topic of concern. Why so many increases? What are we paying for, people demanded. In March, frustrated voters finally got their way: The DWP would now have to collaborate with a ratepayer advocate; someone who, as the editorial board described in 2010, would “cut through the politics and posturing and deliver straight answers.” It’s a move that brings transparency and accountability to the department and puts the interest of customers and the environment ahead of fat cats.
What it doesn’t do is promise the end of rate hikes. Take, for example, a justifiable plan presented by Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay, and illustrated by Michael Osbun. From Gold's Op-Ed:
In 2008, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosareleased a visionary plan for ensuring the future reliability of the water supply by moving Los Angeles away from its reliance on imported water. In an average year, the DWP purchases more than half the city's water (some 115 billion gallons) from the Metropolitan Water District, which imports it from the Colorado River and the Sacramento River delta. The DWP imports another third of the city's water from the Owens Valley and Mono Basin. Only a paltry 1% of L.A.'s supply currently comes from recycled water, a mere fraction of the water recycled by Orange and Los Angeles counties.
The goals in the mayor's plan were reasonable and achievable. Moderate water gains would come through conservation, recycling and storm water capture. The San Fernando Valley aquifer would be cleaned up so that its groundwater could be better utilized. If followed, the plan's prescription would result in enough water to supply nearly half a million people per year by 2020. Our dependence on imported MWD water would be reduced by nearly 30%.
What’s the catch? A rate increase, for one thing. Read on.
Illustration: Michael Osbun / Tribune Media Services