Is Los Angeles Running Out Of Water? Critic David Coffin Says There's Not Nearly Enough To Support New Development

When L.A. approves all those new hotels, condos and apartments you see in downtown and Hollywood, it pretty much guarantees that, yeah, there's enough water for all those extra sinks and showers.

But writer David Coffin says City Hall hasn't been right about its estimates of available water since the 1980s. In fact, he writes, L.A. has routinely exaggerated the amount of water available, likely in the name of green-lighting new developments:

Because water projections are overstated by such large margins, this all but guarantees that every new housing project proposed within the scope of the UWMP will be green-lighted as having sufficient water supplies by LADWP officials.

In its reports from 1985 to 2005, the Department of Water and Power's Urban Water Management Plans have routinely stated that the city can draw "well above 700,000 acre feet" of water annually but the city has only done so once in the last 30 years, Coffin says.

The increased projections in UWMP's are primarily due to overly optimistic projections in groundwater and to a lesser extent recycled water, seawater desalinization, the collection of urban runoff, other forms of water conservation. On top of that is a big dose of MWD purchases to make up for the shortfall.

The projections are as much as 41 percent above reality, Coffin writes.

The result? Maybe L.A. doesn't have enough water for current residents and businesses, let alone newcomers.

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