Story by Scott Blair of Engineering News Record
Years of drought and other ever-present threats to infrastructure resiliency have spurred the city of Los Angeles to embark on a comprehensive planning effort that city officials and industry observers say is unprecedented in the U.S. in its scale and complexity. If successful, the plan will break down departmental silos and help government agencies and public stakeholders to tackle the city’s many daunting water issues.
“We understand the realities of climate change and earthquakes in Los Angeles, and we have to be ready,” says Mayor Eric Garcetti (D). “We need an integrated water strategy that increases local water supplies and improves water security.”
To achieve that goal, the city is developing One Water LA 2040, which will provide a framework for collaboration among city departments, regional agencies and public stakeholders to integrate management of the city’s potable water, stormwater, wastewater, recycled water and groundwater resources. Once finalized, One Water will encompass $10 billion to $20 billion in water-related projects that provide multiple benefits to the public.
The multipronged planning team—led by the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation (LASAN), which oversees wastewater collection, conveyance and treatment and watershed protection, plus the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power (LADWP), the agency responsible for providing potable water to the city’s four million residents—believes that One Water will create a ripple effect throughout many facets of the city.
“Our top priority is no longer just water—it’s improving the quality of life. That’s a shift,” says Adel Hagekhalil, assistant director of LASAN. “Now, we are resource managers, social engineers and environmental and community stewards. We are talking about the economy, jobs and the vitality of the community.”