Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Too much water recycling could dry up the LA River

by A Martínez and Take Two staff | Take Two®

171319 full
The Los Angeles River flows past the Atwater Village neighbourhood during a rain storm in Los Angeles, California on January 12, 2017. KONRAD FIEDLER/AFP/Getty Images

You don't have to think back too long to remember a time when people didn't really think of the Los Angles River as a river – it was basically a concrete flood control channel. 

But in the last couple of decades, it's been transformed in part due to a $1 million restoration effort. Now, sections of the river have become places for kayaking, biking and even horse-back riding.

Kayakers aren't the only people with eyes on the LA River.

City planners have used a variety of water reclaiming methods, such as marshes, to "recycle" runoff river water.

This water is then used to replenish the groundwater in the San Fernando Valley, which depends on groundwater for irrigation and industrial purposes. City planners hope to expand this reclaiming system, all in the hope of making Los Angeles more water independent. 

However a new study from UCLA suggests this may not be so sustainable, and unless the water is managed better, the river might run dry.

"We need to start making smart decisions," said UCLA's Mark Gold.

According to Gold, there's a fork in the road for city planners: do they want to commit the vision of the LA River as a recreational space, or as a way to ward off drought?

Or, if planners are careful, can they accomplish both?

"Is it just about putting parks and having bike paths along the river," said Gold, "or are we really going to do something to transform the river itself and the water said that feeds into it?

"And that's really what this study is all about, is it provides an incredible amount of information for those people who are doing the planning and decision-making to decide the future of the river."

To listen to the full interview, use the blue media player above.



blog comments powered by Disqus

Enjoy Take Two®? Try KPCC’s other programs.

What's popular now on KPCC