KEN MURRAY, clinical assistant professor of family medicine, Keck School of Medicine at USC.
This op-ed appeared in Time magazine on Oct. 11 2013.
As a nation, we dream of energy independence. But in Los Angeles, we wouldn’t dream of water independence. Our local groundwater resources, in this partial desert with Mediterranean weather, provide only 13 percent of what we need. State politics are now consumed with a proposal by the governor for another massive infrastructure project that will move more water, cost billions, and make us even more dependent.
But we may have to think of this problem differently. All three sources of L.A.’s water imports – the Delta in Northern California, the eastern Sierra, and the Colorado River – are maxed out and likely to decline with global warming. The risks of dependence are growing.
So how can we wean ourselves on distant water? Desalination gets attention, but the energy costs are prohibitive. Instead, we should be examining every bit of water that is already here in Southern California.