For the InstructorThese student materials complement the Water Science and Society Instructor Materials. If you would like your students to have access to the student materials, we suggest you either point them at the Student Version which omits the framing pages with information designed for faculty (and this box). Or you can download these pages in several formats that you can include in your course website or local Learning Managment System. Learn more about using, modifying, and sharing InTeGrate teaching materials.
Cities in Peril: LA
The Giant straws of Los Angeles
To see Los Angeles, with its lush landscaping and common swimming pools, one would never believe it to be water limited. Los Angeles is a sprawling agglomeration of towns and neighborhoods spread over nearly 470 sq. miles (1220 sq. km) of semiarid hills and valleys (precipitation is about 15 in--38 cm-- annually). One river, the Los Angeles River, runs through the city to the sea, but this watercourse flows only intermittently and--mainly for flood control--has now been straightened and confined to a concrete channel. The City of Los Angeles now has nearly 3.9 million people living within its borders, a far cry from the estimated 1600 people that lived there in 1850 when (a smaller footprint) LA was first incorporated (Fig 1). By 1900, LA's population had grown to over 100,000, and the local water supply was deemed inadequate. Thus began LA's quest for additional water resources. The subsequent history of water acquisition, especially that of Owen's Valley water and the LA aqueduct (see L.A. Aqueduct Centennial 2013 for pics) engineered by William Mulholland, makes very interesting reading ("Cadillac Desert" by Marc Reisner, p. 54-107). Controversy still surrounds this acquisition. Table 1 shows the major aqueducts that now supply water to LA.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013
|Aqueduct||Year Complete||Year Construction||Length||$ Cost||Delivery|
|Owens Valley and LA Aq||1913||5||223 mi||23mill||485 cfs|
|Second LA Aq.||1970||5||137 mi||89mill||290 cfs|
|Colorado River Aq.||1941||10||242 mi||220mill||1600 cfs|
|California Aq. and West Br*||1973||1960 appop||701 mi||5200mill||4400 cfs|
*California State Water Project: note that the length and cost is for the entire system, not just LA, and the cfs for the West Branch is not what LA alone receives. Source: California State Water Project At A Glance
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Activate you Learning: Think about it!
Imagine if your hometown annexed water rights from somewhere as far away as Mono Lake is from Los Angeles. Where would that water come from for your hypothetical case?