LOS ANGELES—After 12 years of political controversy, legal delays and statewide referendums, California legislative officials and Los Angeles municipal authorities finally greenlighted a proposal Monday to allow water-poor Los Angeles to begin drawing water for public use from the bodies of the metro area's estimated seven million minority residents.
"With its rich tapestry of black, Asian and Hispanic cultures, Los Angeles' diversity is one of its greatest strengths," said L.A. mayor Richard Riordan, announcing the plan. "And with some 15 gallons of water contained within the body of an average 170-pound L.A. minority resident, these people also represent one of our city's great untapped natural resources."
Initially proposed by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation in 1938 and revived by the L.A. Department of Water & Power in 1985, the $10 billion minority-drainage system will draw nearly 100 million gallons of water a year from non-Caucasian residents via an elaborate network of pipelines individually inserted into their bodies. The water will then be pumped to various aquifers and reservoirs throughout the city, where it will be processed and made available for public consumption.
According to Department of Water & Power officials, much of the critically needed water will be used to help fill Los Angeles' estimated 1.5 million glamorous in-ground swimming pools.
"Did you know that Mexicans are 65 percent water?" DWP chairman Kurt McFadden said. "According to our estimates, under the new system, the water from a mere 300 Mexican immigrants—legal or illegal—is all it will take to fill the extra-large pool of a studio executive or agent."
McFadden said the minority-drainage plan will have numerous other benefits, as well. "No longer will the good citizens of places like Santa Monica, Hermosa Beach and Glendale be forced to limit their lawn-watering time to seven hours per day: Soon, they will be able to leave their sprinklers on for literally weeks on end," he said. "And with the new system providing up to 350,000 extra gallons of water per day, the city will finally be able to construct those 14 new luxury waterpark tourist facilities it has been planning for so long."
Sustaining an adequate water supply has long been among the paramount challenges facing Los Angeles. Located within an arid region that, prior to this century, was incapable of sustaining more than a few tiny outposts of settlers, over the past 100 years the sprawling megalopolis has drained countless lakes and rivers—many of them hundreds of miles away—to meet its ever-growing water needs.
The new minority-drainage technology, said to be excruciatingly painful to those being drained, passed in a statewide referendum last April by a considerable margin.
"There was a small group that stood strongly opposed to Proposition M," Los Angeles municipal media-relations liaison Allan Bruford said. "But it was not enough to constitute a majority rule. It is clear that most Angelenos want this system, regardless of a small, vocal minority."
Despite winning at the polling booth, the new water system had been delayed since April, largely due to unresolved questions regarding which municipalities should receive most of the water; the means by which the individuals to be siphoned will be selected; and what disposal method will be used for the thousands of withered, shrunken human corpses the system produces as waste per hour.
With a majority of the questions finally resolved, initial testing of the pipeline will commence next week. African-American males over the age of 65 have been selected as the first group to be siphoned, with different ethnic and age groups slated to be added over the next nine months as the system is raised to full-flow capacity.
"By this time next week," McFadden said, "there will be more than 50,000 Watts residents of hydroelectric power coursing through this city."
Despite its many benefits, the project is not without its detractors. "What the city of Los Angeles is doing is nothing less than an inhuman, criminal violation of the public interest," Fifth District Councilman Marv Salerno said. "Under the current plan, the city would need to siphon over 12,000 minority citizens a day just to meet its estimated minimum needs. At that rate, L.A. will have completely exhausted its available supply of minorities by the year 2002. What we need is a sensible long-term minority-conservation policy that will ensure the annual regrowth of enough new minority residents to provide us with an indefinite supply of renewable human water sources."
Responding to Salerno, McFadden said that by the time Los Angeles depletes its own minority supply, the system will be upgraded and augmented to reach minorities in neighboring states.
"Phoenix, AZ, a city rich in Hispanics and blacks, is only 350 miles away," McFadden said. "Pipelines many times that length have sent oil from Alaska to the mainland U.S. for decades, so there's no reason to think we can't do it here. L.A. has the technology."