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The City Council will consider a $15 million allocation for the reservoirs

The City Council will consider a $15 million allocation for the reservoirs

L.A.’s quest for water leaves costly bill: Higher rates for customers, choking air pollution

An aerial view of the Santa Monica Reservoir.

An aerial view of the Santa Monica Reservoir. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The Santa Monica reservoir now needs an estimated $40 million a year in pumping, with a backlog of $10 million that could take decades to clear.

That comes from the cost of pumping water from the reservoirs of San Gabriel, Santa Monica, Los Angeles and other water supplies to get residents through dry years or periods of low rainfall.

The system has been under pressure for years amid rising costs and declining rainfall in Southern California, and residents are paying more to fill up their swimming pools and refill their reservoirs than some areas of the country pay to draw water from their well.

The reservoirs and their pumping facilities are becoming an increasingly toxic and expensive mess.

The City Council will consider on Tuesday an allocation of $15 million in capital expenditures for the reservoirs, officials said. But the cost will remain high.

“There’s nothing built in the city that has been costed to date,” said David Wert, assistant business administrator.

The water department’s capital expenditures are $2.5 billion over the next decade for water and other departments. The first two years of that, the department has spent $16.3 million, officials said.

The City Council will approve the allocation in principle at Tuesday’s meeting. It is the latest in a series of meetings over the last several months. In December, the council directed the water department to use funds from the state’s drought water project to meet its water conservation goals, but also to add as much water to its dams as possible to make up for loss of reservoir waters from the drought.

On Saturday, three residents at the Santa Monica Reservoir submitted a citizens’ petition protesting the water department’s “gross mismanagement” of the reservoir’s water supply.

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