JAMS — In the fight to restore the Los Angeles River and end wasteful water practices, Venice activists have enlisted the mathematical minds of local students.

Using complex algebraic equations, Parisa Jung’s seventh grade math class at John Adams Middle School tackled extra credit questions posed by non profits L.A. River Expeditions and the Electric Lodge that illuminated the staggering amount of water wasted annually because of the current state of the river.

The river, which was once the sole water supplier for the city of Los Angeles, is now a concrete channel funneling massive amounts of water to the ocean instead of allowing the water to seep naturally back into the earth, replenishing underground aquifers.

“I liked the idea of my students tackling real-life problems,” said Jung. “No matter how young they are, I hope their answers will inform citizens and contribute to new solutions.”

Using the flow rate provided by the Los Angeles engineering department, the students found that the river dumps roughly 75 billion gallons into the ocean each year, the equivalent of 114,477 Olympic-sized swimming pools. According to Electric Lodge, much of this water is brought in from hundreds of miles away, wasting energy and money.

Students also calculated that L.A. wastes approximately 130 billion gallons of clean rainwater, which could potentially be utilized throughout the city.

“Each year we could fill up the Rose Bowl 1,541 times or 3,081 times/year with an especially large annual rainfall,” said Zaha Wolfe, a 12 year-old student in Jung’s class. “That’s really crazy and stupid, just watering the ocean! I knew adults did weird stuff, but this just confirms my theory!”

Joel Shapiro, founder and artistic director of the Electric Lodge, a solar-powered visual and performing arts center in Venice, was also surprised by the results.

“The figures they uncovered are mind-boggling, even for people like myself who already think about these issues. We really appreciate that the class helped out. I hope we’ll all be able to pitch in and change our insane policies so that, by the time these kids get to be adults, we’ve developed a much better plan for Southern California.”

Shapiro hopes that Jung’s students will open the door for other classes in Santa Monica to come up with their own solutions to improve water usage. He believes that raising questions such as these will help determine how to alter the current situation, and help save both money and water for future generations.


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