Statement Regarding LADWP Funding for Non-Profit Organizations

January 30, 2018

LADWP proudly partners with and sponsors non-profit organizations, including environmental groups and academia when their goals and objectives align with ours in order to promote LADWP customer programs and encourage conservation. These sponsorships also include partnerships with media, including the LA Times’ “Times in Education” program to promote energy efficiency and water conservation by students and their families. Such sponsorships are good investments of ratepayer funds.

LADWP’s non-profit partnerships can include funding in the form of grants for conservation outreach or contracts for services – often at lower cost than through for-profit entities. LADWP also sponsors events held by non-profits and is a member of various not for profit trade associations such as Chambers of Commerce and power- or water-related industry associations. LADWP staff may also serve as members of the boards of some non-profit organizations.

LADWP’s support for non-profits is not charity, but rather opportunities to promote programs and conservation while working with organizations in the communities we serve. Out of LADWP’s approximately $5 billion annual budget, we invest on average, approximately $500,000 to support local non-profits through fundraising events. This amounts to a cost of about 33 cents per customer, per year. 

LADWP has been a member of the Council for Watershed Health (CWH) for two decades; it was founded by Dorothy Green who also founded Heal the Bay and served as an LADWP Commissioner. Green was the most influential water leader in California for thirty years and the non-profits she founded promoted understanding of and accountability for water quality and water supply. LADWP staff has worked collaboratively with the organization on many matters. Our Chief Operating Officer Marty Adams’ role on the Board is similar to past roles held by senior staff at LADWP, LA County Flood Control and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, among others.

CWH provides specialized expertise through contracted services in support of our watershed staff on a very limited basis.  They are not a “charity”. CWH also offers STEM-related scientific internships to minority students at local universities for work related to watershed health, including monitoring water quality in the LA River through a contract with the City of LA Bureau of Sanitation. The type of contracted work performed for LADWP included expert services CWH has provided to other water agencies for over 15 years.

LADWP was responsive and helpful when CBS2 reporter David Goldstein filed a broad California Public Records Act (CPRA) request for information about “all charitable contributions” made by LADWP to non-profit organizations. In this case, staff provided the reporter with records responsive to his requests, but also asked him to be more specific as to any non-profit he was specifically searching for to help ensure accuracy, since the Department does not categorize contracts for services based on whether an organization is for-profit or non-profit.

We disagree with the allegations by the reporter that LADWP withheld records or that any conflict exists based on its support for CWH. In fact, when gathering records, staff also encouraged him to check the City Controller’s website where every payment by LADWP could be searched and is already publicly available. Goldstein followed this advice, and then wrongly alleged LADWP withheld information he obtained from it.

We are proud of our longstanding support of CWH and other non-profits that serve our City.  We remain committed to strengthening our existing partnerships and forging new relationships with non-profit organizations across our diverse city to meet our mission and better meet the needs of our customers.