Our Water LA is a coalition of community and environmental organizations working on water issues to improve stormwater capture and groundwater recharge in L.A. County. Working closely with the L.A. County Federation of Labor and the Los Angeles/Orange County Building Trades Council, we are identifying projects to reduce stormwater pollution and improve our local water resilience, while also creating good construction jobs that build stormwater infrastructure.

Los Angeles has been in the midst of a severe drought for the past several years. However, when there finally is ample rainfall—as in 2017—the abundance of stormwater runoff pollutes our waterways and flows out to the ocean. Currently, Los Angeles County Public Works projects capture enough rainwater to serve the annual needs of 1.5 million residents; however with the right stormwater projects in place, officials think that we could have enough water for about one-third of L.A. County’s residents.

Our Water LA has focused advocacy efforts on a proposed Countywide ballot parcel tax measure that would generate a dedicated source of revenue for stormwater projects, so that we can better use this water. This revenue would fund green infrastructure and multi-benefit projects, which meet stormwater and recharge goals while providing additional benefits to local communities.

In May 2017, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted to direct Public Works staff to do outreach on the County’s new Water Resilience Plan and develop an Expenditure Plan that would lead to placing a ballot measure before voters in 2018. While water-focused environmentalists and engineers are studying how to best approach water infrastructure, LAANE, as part of Our Water LA, is working with them to ensure that jobs and job pathways pipelines, targeted hire, and equitable outcomes are integrated into this ballot measure. We are organizing in diverse communities across L.A. County to push for extensive outreach and engagement in low-income communities of color, and to ensure that water projects in lower-income areas are given priority in future ballot measure criteria.