Creating a OneWater Market for Los Angeles: Supporting the Goal of 100% Local Water Supply for Community Water Systems

Project Summary

Los Angeles County currently has 215 community water systems. These water systems vary greatly in their local water resources, including access to groundwater and aquifer storage, storm water capture, direct and indirect water re-use, complementary water infrastructure, and potential for conservation. In order for the water systems in L.A. County to achieve 100% local water, a system must be created that enables the trading of local water among systems. Developing such an exchange platform, which researchers call a OneWater market, will further incentivize water conservation and thus increase aggregate local supply and address highly localized disparities in supply across the region at a lower cost than is feasible under the current, fragmented system. This project creates an optimized urban water market for Los Angeles that evaluates existing water resources in the urban system, demonstrates the value of utilizing these resources, and develops a policy framework that will allow Los Angeles County to capture these benefits. The goal is to maximize local water reliance, recycled water use, and captured stormwater use while minimizing regional cost, water conveyance, electricity use, water imports, and groundwater pumping.

Research Team

J.R. DeShazo
Public Policy, Luskin School of Public Affairs

Gregory Pierce
Urban Planning, Luskin School of Public Affairs

Nicholas Chow
Luskin Center for Innovation, Luskin School of Public Affairs

Progress and Results

The team has worked on a data collection effort and restructured the economic framework to solve for a competitive equilibrium solution. The underlying trading model is now showing preliminary results for the gains from trade. The model is currently only considering  a limited set of systems, but is on track to add complexity to more fully describe the nuances of the Los Angeles system. Currently, the team is working to apply the data collected on: groundwater basins and dynamics, surface water reservoirs, recycled water infrastructure and cost, and the physical and policy limitations that govern these parameters.    

Other Information of Interest

Project photo showing the Los Angeles River


Award Year