The Australian cities of Melbourne and Adelaide utilized collaborative governance, public stewardship, and decentralized technologies to respond successfully to a devastating drought.
2014 Urban Fellow
Research Topic: Water Resources
Faculty Advisor: Shimon Anisfeld
Water Resource Management & Drought: What can LA learn from Australia's Millenium Drought?
California is currently in the fourth year of one of the worst droughts of the past century. Cities throughout the state are looking for ways to bolster water supply and decrease water demand in order to maximize stressed water supplies. In Australia, a devastating ‘Millennium Drought’ forced cities throughout the country to implement innovative strategies that were effective in responding to the drought. This project analyzes the drought response strategies from two Australian cities – Melbourne and Adelaide – and derives lessons that may be applied to help Los Angeles, California respond to its drought. The current Los Angeles urban water system: 1) relies heavily on severely stressed imported water sources; 2) delivers potable water to consumers at unrealistically cheap water rates; 3) contributes substantially to the pollution of the Pacific Ocean; and 4) is heavily fragmented, with organizational silos preventing the coordinated management of water between agencies. Research focused on how collaborative governance, public stewardship, and decentralized technologies helped Adelaide and Melbourne: 1) reduce per-capita water demand; 2) facilitate a behavior change around water consumption; and 3) develop innovative projects utilizing recycled water, stormwater, and rainwater efficiently. These Australian strategies offer lessons that can help Los Angeles to rethink the way water is managed throughout the city.