In July UCLA was flooded when more than 20 million gallons of water gushed from a 90-year-old city water line and last month the Sunset Strip was temporarily closed when 9,600 gallons of water per minute came spewing out of yet another broken pipe. With pipes losing so much water amid one of the worst droughts in California, it’s time to finally update L.A.’s ancient water system.
One hundred years ago, the United States water system was thought to be the best and safest system in the world. Today, however, the pipes are so old that waterlines lose 1 out of 7 gallons of drinking water. And in L.A., more than 40 percent of pipes are a grade C or lower. That’s more than 118,000 pipes that belong to the city’s 275,000 pipeline system.
It’s sufficient to say that L.A.’s water system has problems, especially since the average life expectancy for water pipes is 58 years and nearly two-thirds of pipes that are reported to have leaks were installed before the 1950s.
But don’t worry, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has a solution and it involves replacing L.A.’s current water system in a 300-year cycle. Sound too long? The recent passing of Proposition 1, a bond measure that will ensure that money gets funneled into water projects, will allow for the worst pipes to get repaired. However, this alone won’t solve the city’s outdated infrastructure.
One solution, besides the DWP’s frankly ridiculous water replacement plan, is to replace the water lines in a 100-year cycle. However, it would require $4 billion and that means a 4 percent water rate increase for taxpayers every year. Rate hikes are an unpopular choice for many residents and a solution that politicians are loath to discuss.
Nobody wants to pay more for their water, but residents just might have to. Already the city of L.A. and the DWP has proven they don’t have enough money and time to replace the antiquated system. Breaks in water pipes don’t just waste water, they also flood roads, cause traffic, and create property damage, as seen when UCLA received more than it’s fair share of water back in July.
People don’t think about where their water comes from until they need to. And they desperately need to. The 300-year water replacement plan means residents don’t have to worry about it, nor do their children or their children’s children, but somewhere down the line this is going to be someone’s problem and chances are its going to be future generations to come that are going to be stuck footing the bill.
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