When I joined the crew of The Longest Straw almost three years ago, I didn’t know anything about LA’s water supply. I frequently felt confused as I did research because it took me several months to figure out that the Los Angeles Aqueduct and the California Aqueduct were two entirely separate systems. I couldn’t figure out the connection between the Delta and The San Fernando Valley and desalination plants in San Diego. Mostly, I just spent most of my initial couple of months flailing in confusion – and probably spreading a decent helping of misinformation while I was at it.
Today, though? With minimal prompting, I’ll explain the historical impact of the aqueduct on the Owens Valley, and the specific elements that made it different from the Mono Basin. I’ll cite statistics, placing them in appropriate political context. If you start to brag about the small steps you take to conserve water, I’ll pedantically explain how you could be doing so much more. Let’s just say, by this point in time, I know my stuff.
Hopefully, The Longest Straw is helping everyone else know their stuff, too. Our goal, particularly with our Drought Diaries feature, is to provide you with all the information you need to know about water conservation, drought, Los Angeles, and municipal water systems, hopefully delivered in a straight-forward enough way that you don’t end up as confused as I felt those first couple of months. But we understand, we can’t be the be-all and end-all of water wisdom. So this week, we’re going to feature some other groups that can guide your studies.
The LADWP, or Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, supplies the city of LA with all their water and electricity needs. They also own the LA Aqueduct, which is why it’s not unusual to see familiar LADWP trucks criss-crossing the Sierra Nevadas 300 miles north of the city. Visit their website for water conservation tips, news, and resources about the aqueduct and other pieces of LADWP history.
Tree People might sound like the title of an arboreal-themed horror movie, but it’s actually a non-profit organization dedicated to all sorts of green living in the city of Los Angeles. They’re big advocates of rainwater capture and other steps you can take as a consumer to reduce your water footprint.
The Mono Lake Committee is like a family member that lives five hours away. Decades ago, when the Los Angeles Aqueduct started to threaten the existence of the beautiful Mono Lake, this committee formed to protect the lake and the native species that lived there, ideally without simply passing their problems off to other locations. MLC is dedicated to cooperating with the LADWP, making sure enough water can be shared between these two locations hundreds of miles apart to satisfy the needs of many different people.
While we’re talking about these water-saving committees, we can’t leave off the Owens Valley Committee, yet another water-focused non-profit. While the Mono Lake Committee focuses its efforts on the Mono Basin, the OVC protects another area impacted by the aqueduct, the Owens Valley and the nearly-extinct Owens Lake. They advocate for keeping their land natural, and you can learn more by visiting their website.
While the four organizations profiled here are great at what they do, there are so many other groups we’ve run out of the space to mention. Nominate who you’d like to see in our next edition of Our Favorite Things!