Why the West Hates Southern California

Posted on | May 10, 2009 | No Comments

THE FIRST thing one learns when leaving Los Angeles and California to travel Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona is that the rest of the West hates Californians.

The reason can be summed up in one word: Water.

Legal division of Western water more or less started with the Gold Rush and the first come, first serve law pertaining to gold came to apply to water, no matter how crazy the allocations became as the West was settled.  

California was greedy early and has proved positively Roman in its ability to build aqueducts and storage reservoirs. Well endowed with water, it has proved unsurpassed at wasting it, even as the rest of the West shriveled in drought, and even as in the past decade the crisis has reached all three of Southern California’s water sources in the Sacramento Delta, Owens Valley and the Colorado River.

To sum up the magnitude of the waste, every year, Southern California squanders more than three times the annual water supply of Southern Nevada, sending most of this into its storm drains in the form of lawn sprinkler, hose and car-washing run-off.

It wasn’t until places such as Las Vegas and Denver showed stunning savings with garden conservation programs that the nation’s largest water wholesaler outside of Reclamation, the Metropolitan Water District of California, began to invest in outdoor conservation programs.

And then MWD threw in chump change. 

Nowhere dragged its feet quite so scandalously as the largest MWD member agency, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

But having led the West to the brink of disaster, finally beginning June 1, 2009, Los Angeles is issuing outdoor water use ordinances aimed at curbing California’s water waste.

It is rather like declaring the recession official after the collapse of Bear Stearns, but it’s a start.  As such, the June 1, 2009 Los Angeles Water Ordinance cannot be liked too early or too often.

Links will be added to regional ordinances as time allows hopefully building a useful directory. Suggestions welcome to: emily. green [at] mac.com


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