East Porterville was experiencing a historic drought, which led to the failure of wells in the area. Residents started hauling water from their workplaces and sending kids to shower at school. Those lucky enough to have functional wells supplied their neighbors with water through snaking hoses. This isn’t unique to East Porterville either.
Over 300 communities in California do not have access to safe drinking water. This fact alone shows that the state is in trouble.
While civil engineering services can assist in proper water design and stormwater management, Los Angeles (LA) is setting an example. Intent on its goal to cut reliance on imported water in half by 2025, the city aims to promote water diversification.
LA’s Water Policy of Diversification
California is in dire straits. Experts share that climate change will bring harsher droughts and stronger storms. While the state may experience trouble coping with the new reality, LA could hold the hopes to a better tomorrow. And at present, it imports a majority of its water supply to the east.
The city has established a water policy of diversification. This entails obtaining water from various sources, including wells, aquifers, rain capture, and even from the air.
A study from the University of California, LA reports that it is possible for the city to reach 100 percent locally sourced water by 2050. And to get there, the city is embarking on various water management campaigns.
Stormwater as an Asset
The answer lies in stormwater. The establishment of the Tujunga Spreading Grounds (TSG) enhancement project in 1930 helped the city save five billion gallons of water every year. The stormwater facility captures enough water to hydrate 50,000 households.
While the LA Department of Water and Power serves more than four million customers, catchment projects, like the TSG, obtain stormwater that would otherwise drain to the sea.
Embracing Energy-efficient Desalination
But not all areas are as fortunate as LA.
In a coastal city near San Diego lies the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. It pumps saltwater and filters out salt, bacteria, and viruses through a process called reverse osmosis.
Jessica Jones, Director of Communications for Poseidon Water, stresses the importance of desalination, especially for communities with a high dependence on imported water supplies. And embracing the process could pave the way to the country’s water independence.
Desalination has been around for decades, but it hasn’t been the most energy-efficient process. With the rise of new technology, however, experts hope to reduce the amount of energy consumed by the reverse osmosis process in half.
Lessons Learned from LA
LA may be setting an example for proper waste management, but the issue extends beyond the city. Addressing the water crisis in California means transforming mankind’s relationship with water.
It’s hard to appreciate the real value of water — and this came at a grave price for residents from East Porterville. As the effects of climate change continue to loom over the horizon, what happened at East Porterville could happen again on a larger scale.
Dealing with the imminent water war comes with the responsibility for those communities to diversify their water sources and embrace new water security methods. After all, it is never too late to change.