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Water Supply Disruption Impacts LA County Economy





Economists forecast severe job loss and other economic impacts from major disruptions while pointing to the importance of local strategies to ensure a secure water supply

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) released a report, titled: Total Regional Economic Losses from Water Supply Disruptions to the Los Angeles County Economy. The report, conducted by a team of University of Southern California economists led by Professor Adam Rose, one of the nation’s leading economic risk analysis experts of terrorism and other major disasters, finds that Los Angeles County could suffer startling job and gross domestic product (GDP) losses if a major disruption to the region’s imported water supplies were to occur from a shutdown of the California Aqueduct due to a man-made or natural disaster such as an earthquake.

The report shows that Los Angeles County could face severe economic scenarios resulting from a 12-month and 24-month shutdown of the California Aqueduct, for example:

During an adverse hydrologic (i.e., drought) year (such as experienced in 2008), a 12-month shutdown would amount to economic losses of as much as 550,000 jobs and $55.6 billion in GDP if resilience, such as accelerated conservation and diversion of replenishment water to other uses, is minimal.

Under normal hydrologic (e.g., rainfall) conditions, a 24-month California Aqueduct shutdown would lead to as much as 740,000 in lost job-years, $75 billion lost in GDP and $135 billion in lost total sales revenue for businesses if resilience is minimal.

As such, the report demonstrates the importance of protecting imported water sources that are vulnerable to natural disasters, developing local water supplies, maximizing groundwater storage, and implementing locally driven strategies to expedite the development and delivery of critical water infrastructure projects as well as moving to a smarter design of the built environment.

One of the report’s major takeaways is that without additional preparation Los Angeles County could suffer devastating impacts on its economy and the quality of life of its residents if a major disruption to the region’s imported water supplies were to occur.

The entire study can be viewed online at: