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LA asks state for more money to fund recycled water projects

The city wants to source at least half its water locally by 2035

Los Angeles has a serious dependence on imported water, and local officials want the state to pitch in more to help the city get more of its water from local sources.

In a letter sent Friday to the California Water Resources Control Board and Department of Water Resources, Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Controller Ron Galperin asked the state to lift a $15 million limit on grants for water recycling projects awarded through a water bond approved by voters in 2014.

The letter argues that $15 million grants won’t be enough to propel large infrastructure projects like the $435 million purification facility that the city is planning at the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys.

Once complete, the project is expected to capture enough water to supply 90,000 homes each year. Garcetti and Galperin argue that the relatively small grants from the state don’t provide enough incentive for cities to develop large facilities like this one.

The letter followed an audit of the city’s recycled water systems undertaken by Galperin’s office. The resulting report suggests that Los Angeles must expand its recycling programs to reduce the amount of water imported from outside of Southern California. Currently, only 15 percent of the city’s water comes from local sources, with an astonishing 75 percent purchased from the Metropolitan Water District. Making matters worse, the private wholesaler has upped prices nearly 25 percent since 2011.

In their letter, Garcetti and Galperin note that the city is seeking to reduce water use 25 percent by 2035, while gathering at least half of its supply locally by that year.