The Los Angeles Conservation Corps (LACC) was established in 1986 by Mickey Kantor, “to provide at-risk young adults and school-aged youth with opportunities for success through job skills training, education and work experience with an emphasis on conservation and service projects that benefit the community.” Today, one of the projects it is undertaking is the repair of the Los Angeles River. This involves “plucking out invasive plants, picking up trash, and removing graffiti from the river.” While doing this, they learn about “native landscaping, hydrology, and water quality management from their crew supervisor Brian Casey.”
Still, in other areas of LA, people are calling for a “relaxation of conservation efforts.” Toward the end of 2015, water providers had a very hard time “meeting conservation targets.” Now though, drought rules have been modified in LA, “rewarding water districts for investing in new local supplies, [thus] allow[ing] for adjustments for savings goals based on a district’s climate and population growth.” Indeed “conservation standards” could be decreased by as much as eight percentage points.
South Californian residents are really trying to conserve water, following the call by government officials to engage in this important act. Things were going well for a time, but it seems that the most recent response to this has been that they are “hitting a wall” and can’t do anymore. According to a recent survey commissioned by Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District (MWD), close to 90% of respondents said they either strong or somewhat agree that they’ve “already cut back on water use at my home as much as [they] can.” Many said that they would be willing to lessen their consumption. Realistically though, MWD Board Member Cynthia Kurtz pointed out that, “they know what they’re doing [to conserve], and they believe it’s everything, but when you start giving them other ideas … they realize they’re not. So drought fatigue, in a sense, means they’ve run out of ideas, and we need to keep reinforcing that there are other things they can do.”
Still, water conservation is not all bad for LA. According to statistics from the LA Department of Water and Power, “customers reduced their water use by 13.7 percent in December, compared to the same month in 2013, below the 16 percent reduction goal set by the state, according to figures released Feb. 2.” And since the June statewide instituted mandate, customers have “reduced a cumulative 16.7 percent, just ahead of the goal.” Nevertheless, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, Felicia Marcus cautioned:
“While the recent rains and growing snowpack are wonderful to behold, we won’t know until spring what effect it will have on the bottom line for California’s unprecedented drought. Until we can tally that ledger, we have to keep conserving water every way we can. Every drop saved today is one that we may be very glad we have tomorrow.”
So there is work to be done on conservation projects in LA. But it seems a lot has already been done and proposals are underway for more of the same. Let’s hope for a water-heavy LA for 2016.