LAANE is a proud member of the Our Water LA coalition, a group of community and environmental organizations working to secure clean, safe, affordable, and reliable water for all. Working closely with the LA County Federation of Labor and the Los Angeles/Orange County Building Trades Council, we are advocating for projects that can 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 LA County’s residents.
On November 6, 2018, Los Angeles County’s Safe, Clean Water Program (SCWP), Measure W on the ballot, won the support of 69.45% of voters (two-thirds are required for passage). The breadth and depth of the effort by the OurWaterLA Coalition, LAANE, and our labor and community allies were critical for victory. The parcel tax established by Measure W will generate over $300 million a year to fund the SCWP to modernize our water system and capture and clean storm water. The funds will be allocated to green water infrastructure projects that can reduce water pollution, improve our local water resilience, and benefit disadvantaged communities (DACs), while also creating thousands of good construction and permanent maintenance jobs for low income and disadvantaged workers. LAANE’s research, available here, found that over 30 years of investment possible with Measure W funds, more than 6,500 new construction jobs and 1,300 new operations and maintenance jobs are possible.
Water-focused environmentalists and engineers are studying how to best approach water infrastructure, and LAANE, as part of Our Water LA, is working with them to ensure that the jobs and job pathways, targeted hire, and equitable outcomes are integrated into these investments. We are organizing in diverse communities across LA 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.