2018 Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science™ Awards Competition Winner

E3S Grand Prize

Grand Prize - Planning

One Water LA 2040 Plan

Entrant: City of Los Angeles, LA Sanitation and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
Engineer in Charge: Adel Hagekhalil, P.E., BCEE
Location: Los Angeles, California
Media Contact: Flor Burrola

Entrant Profile

The City of Los Angeles is nearing completion of the One Water LA 2040 Plan which takes a holistic and collaborative approach, considering all the City's water resources from surface water, groundwater, potable water, wastewater, recycled water, dry-weather runoff, and stormwater as "One Water." The Plan identifies multi-departmental and multi-agency integration opportunities to manage water in a more efficient, cost effective, and sustainable manner.

The level of complexity, scope, and large number of stakeholders involved makes One Water LA more comprehensive than most other studies or master plans. The Plan was developed in two phases:

  • Phase 1-defined the Vision, Objectives, and Guiding Principles of One Water LA. More than 350 stakeholders were actively engaged in Phase 1and continued their involvement in Phase 2. A Guiding Principles Report was completed as part of this Phase.
  • Phase 2-involved a detailed, integrated planning and policy analysis resulting in an implementation strategy to meet the One Water LA vision, objectives, and guiding principles. This phase includes wastewater and stormwater facility plans, as well as recommended policies to increase coordination, integration, and management of water between all City departments.

The Planning effort was led by dedicated representatives from both LA Sanitation (LASAN) and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and shaped by input from other City departments, regional agencies, and local stakeholders. The Plan will help guide strategic decisions for integrated water projects, programs, and policies throughout the City.

Project Description

The City relies on multiple water supply sources, programs, and practices to meet the City's water demands, drinking water quality standards, wastewater discharge limits, and environmental water quality requirements. In recent years, the City of LA has imported approximately 84 percent of its water supply from hundreds of miles away. As water supplies fluctuate, due to drought conditions and impacts from Climate Change, so does our ability to import water from these sources. Increased local stormwater capture and recharge, and recycled water use are key strategies to augment supplies, improve supply reliability, achieve flood protection and meet water quality goals.

Integration Benefits

In collaboration with the Steering Committee (representing 14 City departments and 6 regional agencies), a stakeholder Advisory Group, and other stakeholders, the City developed the One Water LA Vision, seven objectives and thirty-eight guiding principles.

The 7 objectives are:

  • Integrate management of water resources and policies
  • Balance environmental, economic and societal goals
  • Improve health of local watersheds
  • Improve local water supply reliability
  • Implement, monitor and maintain a reliable wastewater system
  • Increase climate resilience
  • Increase community awareness and advocacy for sustainable water

By identifying the multiple benefits (environmental, economic, and social) of projects and programs, the City can implement more sustainable and cost effective solutions. Ultimately, One Water LA will lead to smarter land use practices, healthier watersheds, greater integration of the City's various water systems, increased utility efficiency, stronger communities, climate change resiliency, and protection of public health.


One Water LA builds on information developed for a large number of existing planning studies developed by multiple agencies. One Water LA's success is also due to the involvement of diverse groups, including government, businesses, academia, community members and others working together to achieve the One Water LA vision.

One Water LA identifies key integration opportunities for the City to reach its water supply and water quality goals. Examples of the key integration opportunities identified include: Optimize and maximize recycled water for irrigation, commercial, industrial, and groundwater recharge uses; explore the potential of potable reuse opportunities through inter-agency partnerships; increase stormwater capture, treatment, and reuse at neighborhood, sub-watershed, and regional levels; increase use of local groundwater basins for storage through new recharge projects and more.

Originality and Innovation

Early on, the One Water LA team not only recognized the importance of the involvement of multiple agencies and departments, but also the benefits of deep stakeholder engagement. Building partnerships required a comprehensive approach with multiple engagement programs targeted at different audiences taking place simultaneously. Figure 1 presents an example of multiple audiences engaged in One Water LA Plan development process.

Innovative and stakeholder-driven elements of the One Water LA 2040 Plan include:

  • Water Balance Tool that provides estimated flows for potable water, wastewater, recycled water, stormwater, river flows, ocean discharges, and estimated capital and unit costs for various combinations of projects and hydrologic conditions.
  • Eighteen project evaluation criteria based on environmental, economic, and societal goals. Stakeholders were invited to participate in an exercise to weigh the relative importance of each of the project evaluation criteria.
  • Funding strategies and cost-sharing opportunities developed with a knowledgeable and diverse group of stakeholders, including regional agencies and private companies, to help leverage existing dollars and maximize public investments.
  • Stormwater and Urban Runoff Facilities Plan (SWFP) with over 1,200 projects to guide the City and its partners in meeting the City's goals of increasing stormwater capture, improving water quality, providing flood protection, and building more sustainable and resilient green infrastructure.
  • Climate resiliency strategies to incorporate into design processes for new and existing wastewater and stormwater projects including pumping plants, low flow diversions, stormwater treatment facilities, and water reclamation plants.
  • A portfolio of long-term projects that increase indirect and direct potable recycled water availability through inter-agency partnerships. . Thirty-nine policy and program recommendations developed in concert with stakeholders.


One Water LA considers a wide variety of water-related issues and challenges that will require new integrated water management strategies in the future. These challenges include:

  • More Stringent Stormwater Quality Regulations -To protect beaches and marine life, regulators establish total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for various pollutants found in runoff. The City has a limited amount of time to comply with these TMDL requirements to avoid fines and compliance deadlines are approaching rapidly.
  • Reducing Reliance on Purchased Imported Water - The City's current supply mix is heavily dependent on imported water. Chronic and more severe droughts reduce the reliability of imported water supplies.
  • Replacing Aging Infrastructure -The City owns thousands of miles of water, sewer, and stormwater pipelines and associated facilities. The vast majority of these systems are old and getting older. Replacing all aging infrastructure in Los Angeles at once is not affordable. The challenge is to prioritize replacements and repairs despite limited information, funds, and resources.
  • Limited Funding-The City has limited funds and resources to address all of these water management challenges. Integrated planning between City departments helps prioritize needs, develop multi-benefit solutions, and identify funding sources, and cost-sharing opportunities.

The Plan identifies projects, policies, and programs to address our challenges and illustrates opportunities to make LA's urban water cycle smarter (Figure 11).

Social and Economic Advancement

Through the participation of One Water LA's engagement groups, the Plan will help the City integrate management of water resources and policies by increasing coordination and cooperation between all City departments, partners and stakeholders. It will balance environmental, economic and societal goals by implementing affordable and equitable projects and programs that provide multiple benefits to all communities including increased open spaces and green jobs; improve health of local watersheds by reducing impervious cover, restoring ecosystems, decreasing pollutants in our waterways and mitigating local flood impacts; improve local water supply reliability by increasing capture of stormwater, conserving potable water and expanding water reuse; implement, monitor and maintain a reliable wastewater system that safely conveys, treats and reuses wastewater; and increase climate resilience by preparing and adapting to future climate-related risks. Implementation of the Plan is intended to benefit generations to come.

Click images to enlarge in separate window.

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Figure 1: One Water LA Team

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Figure 2: One Water LA Benefits

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Figure 3: Some of the dedicated members of One Water LA's Stakeholder Group

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Figure 4: One Water LA Steering Committee - Representatives from 14 City Department sand 6 Regional Entities attended over 10 One Water LA Steering Committee Meetings. One Water LA also held over 50 one-on-one focus meetings with Departments and Agencies.

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Figure 5: The City held an interactive policy discussion and breakout sessions with more than 50 stakeholders to seek input on initial policy ideas and gather additional policy recommendations.

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Figure 6: Stakeholders help identify the most important benefits for One Water LA to achieve.

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Figure 7: the One Water LA 2040 Plan consists of many plan elements and deliverables that willl form the foundation of the One Water LA Implementation Strategy.

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Figure 8: One Water LA leverages and builds upon many existing studies.

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Figure 9: The Plan recommendations include a variety of project concepts that represent eight different wter management strategies.

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Figure 10: One Water LA Water Balance Tool

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Figure 11: One Water LA's Smart Urban Water Cycle

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Figure 12: One Water LA Stakeholder Organizations

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