Rewiring DWP: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa must reform the city’s utility

THE Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is more than a utility – it’s an institution. More than a century ago, the DWP and its first superintendent, William Mulholland, secured the water that would eventually allow Los Angeles to grow into the nation’s second-largest city. Without the DWP, we would never have had the citrus groves and orchards that once stretched across the San Fernando Valley, nor the suburban developments that later replaced the farms.

True, the DWP’s story has always been one of landmark accomplishment, coupled with scandal and political meddling. But the last few years have been a particularly dark period for the utility.

Mass power outages in 2006 and rampant water line breaks in 2009 revealed how the utility had failed to maintain its aging infrastructure. Rich raises for DWP employees awarded during a recession, coupled with rapidly increasing rates antagonized customers.

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The DWP is a ripe candidate for privatization.