Southern California braces for another September heat wave and the ongoing drought, and the city of Los Angeles has added to its list of woes. City officials unveiled plans Tuesday to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to improve drainage, curb the city’s smog problem and boost water recycling, among others. And they proposed a new $6 billion tax measure that would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue, all while raising the city’s sales tax and imposing a hefty fee on companies and individuals that contract with the city to sell water.
“If we can get a third of the water to drink, we will do it,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
The plan would expand a water recycling project known as the Metropolitan Water Reuse and Remediation Project, or the Water Reuse and Reuse America Project, or the Water Reuse Project, into a comprehensive effort to better treat toxic pollutants, including the lead, arsenic, and copper in the water before they are reintroduced into the environment.
“Water is one of the most life-giving things on earth,” Garcetti told his City Council colleagues. “We all need to appreciate its value, but we also need to understand how we manage it.”
City officials estimate that they could save between $300-$500 million annually by using the water recycled from the project, which would improve the way that the city handles treated wastewater and would also help deal with the water supply crisis by reusing water from Los Angeles County’s massive reservoir.
The new plan is set to be discussed at a special council meeting Tuesday night and the goal is to have the plan in place by the end of the month, Garcetti said Tuesday.
The city has had a long history of drought. As the nation as a whole has watched in horror as the drought has become the worst in its history, the city has not shied away from using state water resources more than most other cities.
In 2014, when San Bernardino declared a state of emergency in response to a drought emergency, Garcetti and other officials went ahead and ordered water usage on the city’s water system to get higher.
The city, which gets roughly a million cubic feet per second from Lake T.P. Garcia, will