Bravo to David Pisarra for arguing for greater public investment in smart water supply in his April 7 column, but desalination is not the answer. Before we even start thinking about building desal plants along our coastlines, we need to get truly serious about conservation, wastewater recycling and stormwater capture. These other options cost less, use less energy and cause less harm to our environment. Desalination is a measure of last resort.

Each day, the Hyperion Treatment Plant pumps more than 250 million gallons of highly treated wastewater into the sea. There is no excuse for not recycling this water in the years to come. This valuable water can be used for industrial, commercial and residential purposes instead of being flushed uselessly to the sea.

Urban runoff is the biggest source of pollution on our local shores, but the waste of water is just as troubling. A single typical day of rainfall spews an estimated 10 billion gallons of runoff through storm drains into Santa Monica Bay. That’s the equivalent to roughly 100 Rose Bowl stadiums of water. Even on a dry day, tens of millions of gallons of water flows through L.A. County storm drains to the Pacific.

Runoff — if captured, filtered and cleansed naturally in groundwater basins — could provide a safe, secure and less costly source of water to millions of Angelenos. Up to 630,000 acre feet per year could be generated by better stormwater capture and reuse in the state, according to a recent study by the NRDC and the Pacific Institute. This volume is roughly equal to the amount of water used by the entire City of Los Angeles annually!

So, yes let’s invest in infrastructure to increase water supply. Let’s just make sure we are investing in the right projects in the right places.

Matthew King
Communications Director, Heal the Bay

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