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Leadership and Excellence in
Environmental Engineering and Science

Related Items

2019 Environmental Communications Awards Competition Winner

Environmental Communications Award

Honor Award

One Water LA

Entrants: LA Sanitation & Environment | LA Department of Water & Power
Person in Charge: Doug Walters, P.E., BCEE
Media Contact: Yvainne V. Galsim | Azya Jackson | Rafael Rincon


In 2013, Los Angeles Sanitation and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power led the One Water LA 2040 Plan's development, partnering with other City departments, regional agencies, non-profits, academia, the business community, and other stakeholders. One Water LA is a collaborative approach to develop an integrated framework for managing the City's watersheds, water resources, and water facilities in an environmentally, economically, and socially beneficial manner.

It is a collaborative approach that changes the way the city thinks about water and consider all of the City's water resources from surface water, groundwater, potable water, wastewater, recycled water, dry weather runoff, and stormwater as "One Water." The Plan provides a comprehensive strategy for managing water in a more integrated, collaborative, and sustainable way through new project, program, and policy opportunities.

One of the Plan's unique elements to help achieve the Mayor's goals is the extensive cooperation and collaboration at many different levels. To open channels of communication and increase collaboration, all departments involved in water were engaged in the planning process. To increase coordination and cooperation among City departments, partners, and a diverse body of stakeholders, multiple groups were established to facilitate the integration of water-related resources and policies.

In collaboration with the Steering Committee, a stakeholder Advisory Group, and many other stakeholders, the City developed the One Water LA Vision, seven objectives and thirty-eight guiding principles.

The 7 objectives are:

One Water LA engagement efforts have been designed to maximize awareness and understanding of the One Water LA program and the importance of increasing our local water supply through stormwater capture and expanded use of recycled water for both non- potable and potable uses. Delivering the messages has required a comprehensive approach with multiple engagement programs targeted at different audiences taking place simultaneously. Some of the efforts to highlight include:

  1. Stakeholder Workshops – Individual citizens, as well as over 300 diverse interested groups including neighborhood councils, non-government organizations, business associations, academia, public agencies are invited to participate in our Stakeholder Workshops. Educational presentations and interactive discussions have focused on strategies for augmenting local water supply, potable and non-potable reuse, watershed health, climate change, funding, and other elements of the One Water LA Plan.
  2. Special Topic Groups – Stakeholders were invited to join one or more Special Topic Groups focused on the following topics: Decentralized and Onsite Treatment Systems, Stormwater Management, Funding and Cost-benefit Analysis, Partnerships and Innovation, and Communications and Outreach. This format proved highly effective by encouraging in-depth education and discussion on the individual topics and allowing participants to provide input on the Plan's direction after learning about challenges and opportunities in each of the areas.
  3. Advisory Group – This group of ten advisors was recruited to represent a diversity of interests including community, business, environmental, and academic, that are involved in integrated water management in Los Angeles. The group plays an instrumental role in formulating the basic building blocks for the One Water LA Plan and provides on-going advice on how to best communicate the Plan's components and involve their constituencies in the Plan's development.
  4. Steering Committee – The Steering Committee is an inter-departmental/agency committee established to guide the development of One Water LA. This committee consisted of 12 different City Departments and several agencies where a total of 44 water-related projects or planning efforts were received.

The City has taken a multifaceted approach to address complex issues with a range of stakeholders from the highly-technical to the lay audience. Efforts have already produced tangible projects and products to create efficiencies and multi-agency integration; inform the details of the One Water LA plan; and build broad community awareness of the interrelationship and complexities of the City's water resources.

One Water LA created a One Water LA Educational pilot program to educate and empower the LA Unified School District students on water conservation, water reuse, and stormwater capture; develop a marketing plan for One Water LA with the help of Pepperdine University MBA students; multi-year participation in the "Young Citizens Artist Project" challenge with local are charter, magnet, and other school for their students to create new ideas to meet the City's water challenges and introduce civic engagement. One Water LA, also, plans to reach out to local universities and colleges to evaluate the research recommendations received during the development of the plan.

The Los Angeles Zoo Department (LA Zoo) has been working closely with One Water LA to identify necessary steps to incorporate stormwater infiltration, capture, reuse, and treatment and to encourage Municipal Recycled Water at the LA Zoo. One Water LA group is involved through collaborative meetings at the early stage of development so that water saving measure and other opportunities can be captured in the LA Zoo Vision Plan. One Water LA also reviews the viability of recycled water use based on water quality, animal needs, and animal sensitivity issued with the LA Zoo. By using recycled water for operations that do not require potable water quality, can save both energy and money, and reduce dependence on potable water supplies.

The One Water LA 2040 Plan is more than just a planning document – it is the product of many people throughout the City working together to change the way the water is managed. The City of LA has embraced a new way of thinking about its water resources and provides a bold vision for a more, integrated, resilient, and water smart City. Next steps to include completing a Programmatic Environmental Impact Report, and deepening department, agency and stakeholder relationships through continued engagement and the formation of implementation committees and new partnerships. The City is committed to working with all its partners to make the Plan's Vision a reality.

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