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Los Angeles Has Just About Every Water Problem It Can Have

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Zombie William Mulholland strikes again. The Urban Land Institute and Ernst & Young have just released Infrastructure 2010 (link goes to a pdf), their fourth annual review of US infrastructure in comparison to other countries, and this year takes a new focus on water. Looking at 14 cities, the report finds that the US has "the highest 'water footprint' in the world, using nearly 656,000 gallons per capita annually," compared to China's 186,000 gallons per capita. And while many city's have water conservation programs in place, many also have aging pipes that leak and break, an uncertain water supply, and regional cooperation problems. And guess which sparkling coastal jewel hat tricked? The aging and the breaking were recently examined by USC, and our uncertain supply comes from severe drought. There are also concerns "that diminishing mountain snowpacks and higher evaporation rates result from permanent climate change, which could impair essential supplies from the Colorado River and California Delta." On top of that, "Farming interests in southern California battle against Los Angeles and San Diego for Colorado River water...Farmers in central California, meanwhile, contest urban residents over the delta’s supplies." And Los Angeles looks particularly bad next to Australia, where water use per household in Brisbane is one-third that of LA's, and in Sydney residents pay $3.87 per cubic meter for water while we pay $2.21. The report suggests a series of solutions that "aim to foster collaboration among different governmental entities, incorporate land use planning into infrastructure planning, and accept higher user costs as a necessity." And the authors like Orange County's wastewater recycling program, which "produces up to 70 million gallons a day and the purification process requires half the energy necessary for pumping water from northern California."
· Add Water Systems to U.S. Infrastructure Challenges, Says 'Infrastructure 2010: An Investment Imperative' [PR Newswire]
· Infrastructure 2010: An Investment Imperative (link goes to a pdf) [ULI]