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Local water shortages loom closer for the Los Angeles regional community

Life as we know it is racing toward extinction.

What would you do if you knew societal and ecological collapse was going to end life as we know it in 20-40 years? And how do you think a lot of other people will do? To do nothing is not on the table.

Forty percent of the earth's total resources have been extinguished by human activity. Those environmental services now extinct or speeding toward complete extinction: Coral Reefs, Rain Forests, Human Habitat near Seas, 1/3 of all plant and animal species over the past 30 years, 1/3 of all remaining plant and animal species by 2050, 90% of ocean surface fishing.

Without an immediate and absolute cessation of mankind-produced greenhouse gases, irreversible Climate Shift-caused ocean-level rise, ice cap and glacial melt, accelerating desertification and rising temperatures are making the middle latitudes (such as Los Angeles County) too hot to be habitable by 2104.

According to a Los Angeles Times article on October 31, 2008, "State water deliveries could be slashed next year if California continues its dry streak, a move that could lead to widespread rationing. California Department of Water Resources officials Thursday said water agencies could get as little as 15% of their State Water Project allocations..."

Of particular concern to the 19 million persons in Southern California today, the region's carrying capacity can only provide water for 2-3 million people.

Revealing the local water crisis confronting the Los Angeles community
Without the Mono Basin, Owens Valley, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta  (all with reduced or no water stream flow forecast) and with the Colorado River being under a 500-year drought, a spector exists for a potential net out-migration of 16-17 million people without water and who must find and build new cities near adequate water.

Los Angeles County flood control engineers estimated upwards of 80 percent of storm-water percolated to groundwater prior to the concretizing of our natural river systems. Only 8 percent of rainfall in urbanized areas now recharges the groundwater, the rest along with urban contaminants flow to the ocean via the channelized streams.

Before suburban sprawl, the Tujunga/Pacoima Watershed was a major contributor of groundwater supply feeding the San Fernando Groundwater Basin—a natural underground reservoir that has become depleted over the years as most of the valley floor became impervious.

A third of LA County's total water recharge is attributed to snow-melt, and rainwater runoff which is collected in the upper watershed by Pacoima and Big Tujunga dams and infiltrated along the Pacoima and Tujunga Washes - comprising the total local surface water infiltrated to groundwater in Los Angeles County between 2003 and 2006.

Currently less than 15 percent of the water supply for the City of Los Angeles comes from local native groundwater. The other 85 percent is imported from distant sources via a delivery system that costs a significant percentage of our total statewide energy bill.

Revitalizing the Tujunga/Pacoima Watershed is key to a local solution of the Los Angeles water crisis
The two Upper Los Angeles River Area groundwater basins (San Fernando and Sylmar) are at a tiny fraction of capacity - with almost no infiltration. Impervious paving and long-term contamination have denied needed recharge to the basins.

If one-half the urbanized lower watershed is reclaimed to it's historic, natural state - using current landscape design methods (with 'Green Streets', non-polluting transportation modes and point sources) and advanced recycled water technologies, potable groundwater could be boosted five-fold or 75% of the city water supply. To ensure a safe water supply, the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board have announced that Honeywell International, Inc. has recently begun construction of a wellhead treatment system for chromium in the North Hollywood region of the San Fernando Valley - Area 1 Superfund Site.

Jack Lindblad's election to the Assembly will empower all constituents of the 39th District with direct stakeholding and representation in Sacramento to relocalize economic, energy and water resources over the oppressive and burdensome private moneyed interests who now hold sway in the legislative agenda with only water shortages and funding cutbacks to offer.

State and municipal declarations of drought will require reduction in water demand (particularly for landscape irrigation), expanded conservation and re-use programs, exploration of other water supply options, and increased reliance on local supplies. Climate shift implications for neighborhood councils have to do with being frugal, making sacrifices, planting and cultivating community gardens as neighborhood festival, being able to recreate by hiking, bicycling, riding a horse from our homes in the lower watersheds to the upper watersheds in the Angeles National Forest - in the process getting ourselves weened off the oil-based transportation infrastructure, weaned off the power grid by decentralized solar, solar-thermal, wind, and on-site waste recycling systems.

In a report just released by the U.S. Department of Energy that analyzed a scenario in which 20 percent of the nation's electricity is generated from wind power by the year 2030, the DOE noted that such a shift would reduce water use by approximately 8 percent. That's a significant savings, roughly equal to the average share of western water withdrawals claimed by urban users.

Then what would one do or advocate now given the impending urgency? Urban planning and design must be ordered by the watershed. One needs to ensure that survival of civitas will be dependent on having local production of and access to (work, food, water, energy, shelter, goods, health care, education, culture). Bio-regional determinism (effected by this process of relocalization) will develop and define the watershed as the basic political governing, economic, social, cultural and currency unit where the grassroots govern from the bottom up.


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Permission is given to reproduce in whole or in part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article. An architect by education and profession, Jack Lindblad is running to win California's 18th Senate District seat in 2014, having (more...)

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