Not Enough Water, L.A.? Look Up.

I am excited to announce that today’s edition of the Los Angeles Times carries a timely Op-Ed that I wrote titled, “Not enough water, L.A.? Look up.

Did Mulholland Get it Wrong?

Nearly one hundred years ago today, William Mulholland stood before a crowd of 40,000 near San Fernando and unfurled an American flag, signaling the official opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. As water from the Owens Valley rushed through the spillway for the first time, Mulholland exulted to the assembled onlookers, “There it is. Take it.”

It was a good line. But Mulholland should have pointed skyward, because that is the true source of our water.

As TreePeople has demonstrated for the past nearly two decades, rainwater has the potential to be a more important supply source than any other. In fact, given our critical need for water, rainwater may be the single most valuable natural resource possessed by the city. And yet, we waste it. Read more.

Since TreePeople’s beginnings in 1973, fueled by my dream that by coming together people can heal LA’s damaged environment, we have believed that the environmental, social and economic problems we face are inter-connected. And so are the solutions. Like trees, with their oxygen-creating leaves and water-storing roots, our environment is a system. We look at it holistically to find and solve the root causes of problems and make the changes that are so critical to our well-being.

TreePeople’s approach to solving Southern California’s severe long-term water shortage—harvesting and more efficiently using our local rainwater, as opposed to importing water from distant sources—is increasingly understood and being adopted by local leaders. Our work has shown that creating a sustainable local water supply will help solve other environmental challenges in our city.

To learn more about TreePeople’s work on rainwater as a water supply solution, you can view two short videos: Miracle on Elmer Avenue and Capture the Rain and Rebuild the Economy.

Excited to start doing something?

You can attend a free presentation on the Tyranny of Turf co-presented with the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West at TreePeople Center for Community Forestry on November 17.

You can also attend TreePeople’s upcoming free workshop on Rainwater Harvesting at home on December 7.


By Andy Lipkis

Andy Lipkis is a practical visionary who has dedicated his life to healing the environment while improving the lives of individuals and communities. He founded TreePeople in Los Angeles in 1973 at age 18 and continues to serve as its President. Andy has spearheaded an approach using trees and forest-inspired technologies to make cities sustainable while mitigating floods, drought, pollution, and climate change. Called “Functioning Community Forests,” it is being demonstrated in L.A. as a model for cities everywhere.