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Smarter Water Town Hall Meeting held in Culver City in Response to Proposed Ocean Desalination Project

Image is of a leaf covered in water droplets.One of California’s most important natural resources is water. Martin Feinberg, Realtor, has been through two major droughts in the last 30 years and knows that water conservation and availability is an important issue for both the state as well as local communities.  Because of that concern, Culver City residents and other community members gathered last week at the Veterans Memorial Building to discuss the possibility of an ocean desalination plant along the coast. The plant was part of a proposal by the West Basin Municipal Water District.

The gathering, labeled as a “Smarter Water Town Hall,” was organized by a coalition of environmental groups and took over a scheduled meeting of the West LA Group of the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter.   Los Angeles Waterkeeper (LAW), Heal the Bay, Surfrider Foundation (South Bay Chapter), and Desal Response Group were some of the area organizations in attendance. The goal of the coalition is for cities to prioritize environmentally friendly, cost-effective water solutions over ocean desalination.

The Chair of the Water Committee for the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter, Charming Evelyn, led the meeting by welcoming nearly 100 community members to the Town Hall. She then emphasized the Sierra Club’s opposition to the state’s desalination plans. Following her remarks panel members discussed the potential environmental and economic impacts of the desalination project. They also highlighted more sustainable water alternatives.

According to LAW Executive Director Bruce Reznik, “Ocean desalination, simply put, is the most expensive, energy-intensive and environmentally harmful option to enhance our local water supplies. The energy required to power West Basin’s proposed 20 million gallon a day desalination plant would contribute tens of thousands of metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere every year, at a time when we have to be doing everything in our power to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Water Policy Advisor, Liz Crosson, and Chief Hydro-geologist at the Water Replenishment District (WRD), Ted Johnson, also discussed some of the more environmentally friendly options that might make an ocean desalination plant unnecessary.  Water conservation and efficiency measures, storm water capture and reuse, wastewater reclamation, and groundwater remediation are all viable measures that can enhance local water supplies. Such options, as argued by panel members, are not only much better for the environment but are also more cost-effective.

The panel closed with remarks by Heal the Bay’s James Alamillo, a long-time Culver City resident. He urged community members to stay involved in water-use conversations and to look towards an ocean desalination plant as a last resort.

Following the presentations, a Q&A session was moderated by Culver City councilmember Meghan Sahli-Wells. Culver City—including all areas of Culver City Real Estate—is one of 17 cities in the area that purchase water from West Basin.

West Basin expects to release its Draft Environmental Impact Report on the proposed desalination plant sometime in the next couple of months. The meeting ended with all environmental groups encouraging attendees to express their opposition to the project directly to the West Basin Board of Directors. They also requested that Culver City formally oppose the project.

Martin Feinberg, Culver City Realtor, encourages all Culver City residents to get involved in the conversation, regardless of views. Water use and conservation affects everyone and all voices should be heard.

Image is of two benches on the beach facing the ocean.