>> It Finally Rained - Now What?

It Finally Rained. Does It Matter?

Over half a decade of drought put water management on everyone's radar. But after one wet winter (2016-17), the drought left the dinner table, replaced by other pressing subjects of conversation. But slowly it returned. The winter of 2017-18 has been hot and dry, and Sierra Nevada snowpack is at dangerously low levels.

Many were relieved when the big storm hit in early March. Unfortunately, California would need multiple storms of equal magnitude to get anywhere near average snowpack and to fill our reservoirs. Localities are struggling with low water allocations from the state. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to 19 million people throughout SoCal, is holding on to just 20% of its requested allocation for the year.

Perhaps we're overdue for making water conservation and stormwater capture a permanent way of life in California. What we considered to be drought in the past may just be a new norm of increased dryness.

In LA County, our unquenchable demand for water is as much at issue as our failure to properly manage the resources we do have. For every inch of rain we receive, LA sends about 10 billion gallons of stormwater runoff down our storm drains and into the ocean. Along the way, that rainwater picks up toxic pollutants like motor oil, grease, trash, fertilizers, and other chemicals.
When it rains, LAW's Community Water Watch team of staff and trained volunteers chase stormwater runoff all over LA County
What if we could capture that stormwater to bolster our local water supplies, instead of senselessly letting it pollute our waterways?

Increasing permeable surfaces throughout LA can add to our local water supply and improve water quality. In her latest blog, Hannah shows us stormwater capture in action, walking readers through four different projects that offer a host of social, economic and environmental benefits in addition to providing a local supply of water.
Curious about Stormwater Policy in LA?

LAW is a proud co-sponsor of the Stormwater, Health and Equity Regional Workshop on Wednesday, April 4. We urge you to attend!
Five Year License Suspension for Poaching in Marine Protected Area
Authored by Michael Quill

LAW's Marine Protected Area (MPA) Boat Based Survey team has been monitoring human activity in and around the waters of our mainland LA County MPAs since January 2012. Fishing in these protected areas is prohibited or restricted. While some illegal fishing is accidental, there are folks out there who knowingly break the laws.

Those folks would be labeled as poachers.

Word on the water has been that even when a poacher is caught and cited for fishing illegally, the fines imposed are not enough to deter continued illegal commercial or recreational fishing activities. That changed a few weeks ago.

On the LA Waterkeeper Boat with Captain Michael Quill
Earth Month is Coming!
Keep an eye on our calendar for upcoming Earth Month events! Ballona
What's Best for Ballona?
Authored by Michelle Lin

My name is Michelle Lin, and I started working at LAW as a Climate Corps AmeriCorps Fellow in October 2017. I remember going to my first meeting with the Wetlands Restoration Principles (WRP) partners and realizing the magnitude of issues facing Ballona Wetlands... including those who mispronounce its name (including myself at first).

After the first meeting, I decided to see the wetlands for myself and took a drive around Ballona through Culver and Jeffrey Blvd. This was my first exposure to understanding the state of the Ballona Wetlands--which to say wasn't very healthy. 
Illustration of proposed public access at Ballona Wetlands, courtesy of CDFW MayorGarcetti
Capture It. Recycle It. Conserve It.
Mayor Garcetti Urges LA to Tap into Local Water Sources

We often reference Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's Sustainable City pLAn, in which LA committed to cutting the purchase of imported water in half by 2025 and to meeting 50% of water demand using local sources by 2035.

In his recent op-ed, Mayor Garcetti outlined how we will get there -- and shined a light on how we won't. 

In years past, we've taken water from the Owens Valley, the California Delta and the Colorado River. But we cannot rely solely on 20th century engineering for our 21st century water needs - and projects like the Delta tunnels run the risk of siphoning off precious ratepayer dollars and endangering the fragile Delta ecosystem. We will never be able to solve our water needs if we have tunnel vision.

We couldn't have said it better ourselves! As we've made clear at Metropolitan Water District (MWD)'s many hearings on the issue, the so-called "California Water Fix" (aka the Delta tunnels/ twin tunnels) would continue California's antiquated, expensive, energy-intensive and ultimately unreliable pump-and dump approach to water. Importantly, it would divert critical resources away from sustainable, equitable and reliable local water options, like those outlined by Mayor Garcetti. 

Westlands Water District - the largest irrigation district in the state - voted against funding the tunnels back in September, which left other districts on the hook for financing even larger portions of the multi-billion dollar proposal. This led to Governor Brown pushing for a 'downsized' version of the project. Whether we're talking one tunnel or two, we're facing what MWD has referred to in the past as the 'worst case' fiscal scenario. And yet, MWD is embracing it. 

Instead of committing Southern Californians to financing this ill-conceived project, we encourage investment in a "4R" integrated approach to water management ( Reduce water waste, Reuse stormwater, Recycle wastewater, Restore our groundwater basins). It seems Mayor Garcetti agrees that this is the most sensible way to go.