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Why does the LADWP building have a giant reflecting pool in the middle of a drought?




The Reflecting Pool surrounds Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles
The Reflecting Pool surrounds Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles
Kevin Ferguson/KPCC
The Reflecting Pool surrounds Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles
The Reflecting Pool surrounds Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles
Kevin Ferguson/KPCC
The Reflecting Pool surrounds Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles
The Reflecting Pool surrounds Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles
Kevin Ferguson/KPCC
The Reflecting Pool surrounds Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles
The Reflecting Pool surrounds Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles
Kevin Ferguson/KPCC
The Reflecting Pool surrounds Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles
The Reflecting Pool surrounds Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles
Kevin Ferguson/KPCC


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This past Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an ambitious new plan to combat the drought in L.A. He wants the L.A. Department of Water and Power to reduce its dependence on imported water by 50 percent before 2024, for starters. The mayor also called for the city to reduce its water consumption 20 percent by 2017. 

"The global metropolis that we have here today has been a leader on water conservation. I couldn't be prouder of my city," said Garcetti. "But current measures are simply not enough."

Garcetti made the announcement in front of the John Ferraro Building, the headquarters for the LADWP. The John Ferraro Building is a beautiful, mid-century structure surrounded almost entirely by a 1.2 million-gallon reflecting pool.

Which begs the question — if Angelenos are being asked to reduce their water use by 20 percent, why does the department that provides the water and collects the bills have a giant pool of water surrounding their headquarters?

Guy Lipa, LADWP chief of staff, provided an answer.

"It's easy to look at the reflecting pool and just see it purely as a reflecting pool and think it's a waste of water. But in fact, it's a core function of our building," said Lipa. "The water in our reflecting pools actually represent the ability for us to cool our data center in an emergency situation. So this water can actually get pumped up through cooling towers if the power goes out or during scheduled outages."

In addition, Lipa said the reflecting pool is filled with filtered, recirculated water, including some of the water from the building's air conditioning system. 

And while Lipa acknowledges that 1.2 million gallons is a lot of water — it's all relative. It takes just a day for 13,000-14,000 Angelenos to use up that much.

"It's a vision of sort of green building and efficient water use in a building, and I think people should look at it and think about it as opportunities to think about how they can incorporate some of this stuff into other parts of the city," Lipa said.