The State of California has combatted drought conditions for at least 13 of the 22 years since the turn of the century, with three-quarters of the state experiencing extreme to exceptional drought between 2020 and 2021. Stoked by the consequences of climate change, drought causes wildfires to burn for longer and at higher temperatures, depletes groundwater aquifers, and diminishes water quality, thus burdening both natural ecosystems and local communities.
To holistically address their public’s present and future water needs while stewarding the environment, the City of Los Angeles launched the One Water LA 2040 Plan, an integrated framework for sustainably encompassing and managing all of the City’s water resources—surface water, groundwater, potable water, wastewater, recycled water, and stormwater—under the concept of One Water.
By setting a common vision across what were once multiple, disparate utilities and organizations, the Plan prioritizes the collaborative implementation of standardized projects, programs, and policies that maximize the use, reuse, and conservation of every type of water. More accurately, the Plan aims to achieve the following primary goals, which also align with the City’s sustainability plan:
- Reduce purchases of imported water by 50 percent by 2025.
- Draw 70 percent of its water supply from local sources by 2035.
- Reduce total potable water use by 25 percent from 2012 levels to achieve 98 gallons per capita per day by 2035.
- Capture 150,000 acre-feet per year (AFY) of stormwater for beneficial reuse.
In the process, the City anticipates creating nearly 7,000 new jobs, restoring environmental habitats, and improving quality of life for the City’s residents and visitors.
As the Plan’s primary consultant, Carollo directed a project team of over 20 subconsultants to help multiple City departments, including Los Angeles Sanitation (LASAN) and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), make multi-million-dollar decisions that foster water-resilient communities over the next two decades. To this end, Carollo completed the following major tasks:
- Enhanced the coordination of water management activities between 16 City departments, 6 regional entities, and more than 500 water sector partners and stakeholders.
- Improved the health of local watersheds by restoring ecosystems, reducing total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) of pollutants, and recharging aquifers.
- Planned for the effects of climate change through proactive adaptation and mitigation strategies.
- Established and implemented an extensive stakeholder-engagement program that engaged community and business leaders throughout the Plan’s development.
- Created an innovative City-wide water balance tool using Carollo’s proprietary decision-support tool, Blue Plan-it®, to analyze the cost and flow impacts of strategically combining water projects that encompass the entire water cycle.
One of the Plan’s most successful outcomes remains the identification and initiation of the following two major programs, both of which Carollo is also leading and overseeing:
- Hyperion 2035: A multi-phase conversion of the Hyperion Wastewater Reclamation Plant (WRP) into a 100 percent water-recycling facility by 2035 to generate an additional 240,000 AFY in new supply, meeting over 40 percent of the City’s water needs.
- Donald C. Tillman WRP: A suite of projects at the Donald C. Tillman WRP to generate 17,500 AFY of advanced-purified water a day for recharge and injection into the San Fernando Groundwater Basin.
The Plan also supported the 2018 passage of Measure W, also known as the Safe Water Program, a parcel tax that now annually funds $90 million towards the City’s stormwater capture and quality improvement. Together, these three transformative programs represent over $17 billion of the City’s investment in reliable and resilient water infrastructure and, coupled with conservation and groundwater basin clean-ups, will meet the goal of sourcing 70 percent of water locally by 2035 without reliance on purchased water.
With the Plan’s findings and recommendations, the City is on course to execute a unified, sustainability-focused water management strategy that leverages the strengths of every agency involved and forwards the equitable distribution of high-quality water, regardless of the challenges the region may face in the future. The Plan is an industry benchmark for One Water projects that tackle the prudent, silo-breaking management of urban water cycles.
Results and Highlights
A trigger-based roadmap for an integrated water management strategy that implements over $17 billion in projects, programs, and policies through 2040.
Incorporation of wastewater and stormwater facility master plans, immediate and near-term mitigation strategies, analyses of long-term water-supply options, a climate change infrastructure assessment, and a flow study of the Los Angeles River.
Extensive community and stakeholder engagement, with active participation from more than 500 stakeholders representing 200-plus organizations.
Enhanced sustainability, resilience, and environmental stewardship in the face of severe drought conditions.
Project Awards and Accolades
American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists: Environmental Communications
Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG)
California Water Environment Association (CWEA)
California Water Environment Association (CWEA) Los Angeles Basin Section (LABS)