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A 578-Page Report Tells Us Everything Wrong With LADWP That We Already Knew

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It took L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin 578 pages to outline everything wrong with Angelenos' least favorite water and power provider. According to the “2015 Industrial, Economic and Administrative Survey of the LADWP,” the Department of Water and Power's bureaucratic set-up is just as shoddily put together as their pipes running beneath our streets.

It's always exciting to realize a government agency is officially as dysfunctional on the inside as it looks on the outside. Remember those billing errors in 2014 and 2015 that left some people without bills, while others were asked for nearly $52,000? What about that 4% rate hike because we were so good at conserving water (drought!) that it began to cut into the DWP's budget?

And we mustn't forget the weekly water-main breaks, like that one in Westwood a couple years ago that dumped 20 million gallons on top of UCLA, causing $13 million in damage.

In short, Galperin's office finds several things wrong with the agency. These are drawn from the report's executive summary:

  • Old pipes and old wiring infrastructure "which if left unaddressed will immediately impact service reliability and long-term costs."
  • Ridiculously large internal departments that are difficult to manage, as well as impact the ability of the agency to act collectively and quickly when needed.
  • Outdated IT systems that are riddled with technical challenges, but also make coordinating among other, more current systems challenging.
  • Keeping the department financially solvent while fixing all of the above.
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Among the above internal challenges faced by the agency, the report also lists several external challenges too. Most notably, the report cites state regulation, drought, cybersecurity and "customer experience" as external constraints DWP must reckon with.
When asked by Courthouse News about how the agency should move forward, Karen Hughes, a DWP spokeswoman, replied simply much of what is wrong with DWP needs to be resolved by those outside the agency.

"A lot of the structure stems from the city charter," Hughes said. "Our department can't make those changes, those charter changes would have to flow from the city council."

Please, somebody in DWP or the City Council, just fix it. And maybe do something about that other utility company responsible for a giant gas leak in Porter Ranch while you're at it.

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