Topics: LA's reclaimed water, organic agriculture in CA, Lake Erie gets rights
On this episode of Solutions News, recorded on March 22 - World Water Day, we talk about LA’s new solution to address its water needs in the future and then we ask how agriculture - that uses about 80% of the water in California - is dealing with a water scare world. Our guest is Das Williams, 1st district supervisor for Santa Barbara County. We finish up the show with a discussion on an interesting tactic being deployed in Toledo for protecting its water source, and some great “didyaknows”.
Geographically, the city of Los Angeles is in the middle of a desert and has always imported water from other sources like the Colorado River or from Northern California via the California Aqueduct. In February, mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, pledged that the city would recycle 100% of wastewater by the year 2035. If successful, this plan would allow 70% of the water in the city to be sourced locally. Under mayor Garcetti’s proposal, wastewater that is currently treated and dumped into the ocean at the Hyperion treatment plant in El Segundo would be treated further and transported to inland storage facilities or reinjected into aquifers in Los Angeles. By moving to recycle 100% of its wastewater, L.A.’s water managers are acting prudently to build resilience into the city’s water supplies.
One of the largest investments of water in the state of California is invested in agriculture. While the California drought it officially over, the state will continue to experience water shortages unless we shift to a more sustainable system. One important way to make this shift is by increasing organic farming. Organic farming helps to create systems that use water effectively because organic soil retains more water than conventional soils. It also creates produce that is glyphosate free (since there is no pesticide) and boosts the natural immune system of plants, especially when monoculture crops are not grown. Rinaldo shares some personal experiences with organic farming and the benefits it can bring.
Environmental Rights in Toledo
At the end of February, the citizens of Toledo, Ohio passed an important resolution granting full environmental rights to Lake Eerie. Now, any citizen can sue on behalf of the lake, rather than having to prove personal damage because of the environmental degradation. Lake Eerie is the main source of water for the city of Toledo, but also for the other cities that border the lake, Cleveland and Buffalo. However, historically, the lake has constantly faced pollution problems. In 2014, the entire town of Toledo, a town with a population of 276,000 people, could not use any water for an entire week because of algae blooms in the lake. Both in Toledo and around the country, the protecting the future of our environmental resources are essential for our prosperity and must be protected.
Supervisor Das Williams was elected to represent the First District of Santa Barbara County in June 2016. Williams previously represented the area, along with over half of Santa Barbara County and a quarter of Ventura County in the California State Assembly from 2010-2106. Prior to his service in the Assembly, Williams served 7 years on the Santa Barbara City Council from 2003-2010 and also served as a trustee for Peabody Charter School in Santa Barbara.
During his extensive public service, Williams has earned a reputation as a champion for renewable energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In the Assembly, Williams helped successfully advocate for a requirements that 33% of the state's energy come from renewable sources by 2020. With the state on track to hit that goal, Williams has authored legislation to increase the renewable energy goal to 50% by 2030.
A lifelong advocate for our coast, Williams championed required testing of groundwater before, during, and after hydraulic fracturing, which was included in California's regulations on fracking and authored legislation to expand groundwater monitoring to other types of injection wells to protect underground sources of drinking water from oil and gas wastewater disposal.
Williams also took leadership to ensure statewide resources would be spent locally to provide relief from the drought, including securing funds for the Lake Cachuma pump project and supporting funding for water recycling and conservation efforts. He's also been a leader on emergency preparedness, hosting an emergency preparedness fair every year since he took office and working to ensure 911 calls are correct routed to cut down on response time.
Williams grew up in Santa Barbara County and attended local schools. In addition to his service in elected office, he taught at Antioch University in Santa Barbara, worked as a junior high school teacher, as well as a legislative aid to California State Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson. Williams holds a Master's degree in Environmental Science & Management, with a focus on water pollution, planning processes, and land-use law at UC Santa Barbara's Bren School of Environmental Science.