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First, We Went Green, Now We’re Turning Blue

DEEGAN ON LA-Blueish may be how we’re feeling, now that we’re shut in and uncertain of what to expect in a future that could be tinted with grey.

But one thing's already certain: LA is going blue. Not Dodger blue, not political blue, but environmentally blue. And ultimately, this includes a path to the end of bottled water in municipal Los Angeles. 

It started with another primary color – green -- when Mayor Garcetti announced LA’s Green New Deal almost a year ago. That sustainability plan imagines that 80% of cars will be running on electricity or zero-emission fuel, and 80% of electricity will be coming from renewable sources. With an announced goal of meeting these standards by the mid-2030s, it leaves very little room for error if we’re to take on this hue of green. 

Garcetti cited the “‘existential threat’ of climate change,” when he introduced this plan which can be seen as a cousin of the national “Green New Deal” being pushed by the hard left. The fossil fuel industry and the hard right are opposed to it. 

Another politico, Councilmember Paul Krekorian (CD-2), wants us to go “blue.” A few months ago, he introduced the Blue Community initiative in Los Angeles, committing the city to: 

  • Recognize water and sanitation as human rights. 

  • Promote publicly financed, owned and operated safe water and wastewater services. 

  • Ban or phase out the sale of bottled water in municipal facilities and at municipal events. 

Recently, Krekorian introduced three motions in City Council as foundational documents to his Blue Community proposal. They included motions for Single-Use Bottled WaterWater and Sanitation, and Municipal Water and Wastewater Services.  All were passed by the City Council, setting Los Angeles up to be designated a Blue Community. Other major cities like Paris, France and Bern, Switzerland have also made the blue commitment. 

Councilmember Krekorian’s spokesperson clarified to CityWatch that the Blue Community title is designated by the Council of Canadians,  Canada’s leading social action organization that advocates for clean water and green energy, among other social issues. They work on The Blue Communities Project, which began in 2009, as a joint initiative of the Blue Planet Project, the Council of Canadians, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees. The movement has grown internationally with 21 cities and towns going “blue,” and more on the way. 

Water has always been a big issue in Los Angeles, which is primarily a desert that needs constant nourishment. Our municipal water system, says Krekorian’s motion, meets “some of the most stringent water quality requirements in the world,” even “surpassing the quality of bottled water,” which, it is claimed in the motion, is “up to 3,000 times more expensive than water from the tap provided by LADWP.” The motion resolves to phase out single-use bottled water sales at municipal facilities by 2028. 

This leaves us at the old school tap for our drinking, when we’re in public spaces, away from home. To help promote tap water as a primary water source, we now have “Tap Water Day”  on May 9. This year is the sixth time this unofficial holiday will be marked in LA. 

And, where do we find public water fountains as we transition away from bottled water? The new smartphone app on We Tap is a drinking fountain locator to find free tap water near you, or to map a drinking fountain that you've found in order to share it with others. 

This is part of the new black and white of going blue.

 

(Tim Deegan is a civic activist whose DEEGAN ON LA weekly column about city planning, new urbanism, the environment, and the homeless appears in CityWatch. Tim can be reached at timdeegan2015@gmail.com.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.