Special to The Bee Published Sunday, Jul. 22, 2012
Southern Californians have a reputation for wasting water. But that's more fiction than fact. We're actually a model for wise water use. Thanks to conservation and efficiency, the city of Los Angeles uses no more water today than it did 40 years ago, despite adding 1 million residents. And the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's new water plan shows how we Southern Californians can avoid the false choice between healthy rivers and a healthy economy simply by continuing to use our water resources more wisely.
Nearly 50 percent of Los Angeles' water supply comes from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers converge and flow out to the ocean. The Bay-Delta ecosystem is important for many reasons. It's the largest estuary on the West Coast of North America and the source of most of the salmon south of the Columbia River. It supports an important recreational economy, thousands of fishing industry jobs, millions of waterfowl, cranes and other birds along the Pacific flyway, and thriving farming communities in and around the Delta.
It takes a lot of energy to move that water south to Los Angeles. The State Water Project pumps water out of the Delta, down the Central Valley and up a 2,000-foot lift over the Grapevine. Pumping all this water accounts for 2 to 3 percent of all of California's total electricity use, contributing to greenhouse gas pollution and sucking far more water out of the rivers in the Delta than the fish and wildlife there can withstand.
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