NEW: Research from Australia to Create a Water-Secure LA

What I witnessed in Australia truly shifted my thinking. Once I returned home, I found myself waking up in the middle of the night, thinking about how to transform LA to capture and conserve water.

-study trip delegate Councilmember Felipe Fuentes

TreePeople is proud to announce the release of our new report, Transferring Lessons from Australia’s Millennium Drought to California.

California and Australia share many climatic, socioeconomic and demographic characteristics that lend themselves to meaningful exchanges of knowledge and innovations. With the benefit of Australia’s documented experiences combating drought, California can apply valuable lessons as we build water and climate resilience strategies.

The report builds on our ongoing exchange with Australian researchers, policy makers, engineers, city planners, utilities and organizations to learn from Australia’s experience during their Millennium Drought–which lasted from 1997 to 2010.  As water leaders, we at TreePeople are applying our learning to California’s policies and practices to better promote climate resilience as the region faces ongoing drought and dangerous temperature increases. Our hope is that this report serves as a platform to showcase how communities and decision makers can work together to combat the effects of climate change in our state.

Policy Lessons for California  

In 2014, TreePeople and The Energy Coalition co-organized a delegation to Australia with local, state and federal level policymakers along with agency leaders to study how Australia’s Millennium Drought best practices could be translated here in California.

The delegation visited Adelaide and Melbourne to see the cities’ drought and climate response initiatives first hand. They also met with Australian water leaders to learn how these lessons could help our region adapt to its drought and climate challenges.

The report’s top level findings detail how:

  1. Drought provides a unique opportunity to reshape water management strategies–encouraging collaboration to work toward solutions.
  2. It is crucial to view our water management with a whole-of-water-cycle approach, using the right water for the right task. (For instance, why use drinking quality water to flush down our toilets?)
  3. Decentralized water sources, such as rainwater harvest on residential properties, can increase water resilience
  4. Livability and quality of life issues should not be forgotten in times of drought.
  5. A mixture of public behavior programs, including  rebates, targets, and water restrictions are effective.

Here at TreePeople, we look forward to continuing our work to create a water-secure Los Angeles.

Ready to learn more? Read the report to learn how we’ve begun to implement Australia’s solutions here in LA.

By Jenny Binstock

Jenny works on the policy team at TreePeople and has worked for over a decade on environmental, social justice, and global health issues. Her work involves making sure that local, county, and state policies advance the organization's goals for a thriving and sustainable Los Angeles. When she's not running between TreePeople's Yurt Village and City Hall, Jenny enjoys the good life: travel, books, food, art, music, film, the outdoors, and exploring and building community in LA.