Systems Analysis and Optimization of Local Water Supplies in Los Angeles


Los Angeles, which relies on large infrastructure systems that import water over hundreds of miles, faces a future of reduced imports. Within Los Angeles and its hundreds of water agencies, the capacity to adapt to future changes is influenced by laws, institutions, and hydrogeology. This paper presents a systems analysis of urban water management in metropolitan Los Angeles County to assess opportunities for increasing local water reliance. A network flow model was developed to investigate management tradeoffs across engineered, social, and environmental systems. With an aggressive regional demand target, increased stormwater capture (300%), and prioritized water reuse from existing facilities, imported water supplies can be cut by 30% while maintaining landscapes, economic productivity, and groundwater resources. Further reducing imports (by 40–50%) is possible through actions to promote additional reuse, recharge, conservation, and groundwater access. Reducing imported water without significant conservation results in likely groundwater overdraft. Fragmented networks of agencies in Los Angeles create an uneven landscape of vulnerability to water shortages. The paper discusses model applications, research needs, and policy implications of results for dry-climate cities.

Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management