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Contaminated and Unregulated: A Worrying New 'Water Atlas' of L.A. County

75 percent of the county’s 228 water systems are vulnerable in some way.
Water runs off from a sprinkler in the Mount Olympus, a neighborhood in the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles.
Water runs off from a sprinkler in the Mount Olympus, a neighborhood in the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles.AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the largest municipal utility in the U.S., serves less than 50 percent of the nearly 10 million souls residing in L.A. County. That fact is a testament to both the staggering population of Southern California, and to many other sources providing county residents with water—the vast majority of which are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and drought.

According to a new report from UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation, 228 community water systems serve Los Angeles County. These range from Antelope Valley’s tiny, private Winterhaven Mobile Estates system, which serves just 25 people, to Golden State Water Company’s tens of thousands in communities scattered across the county, to the 4-million-customer behemoth LADWP.