An East Porterville resident distributing drinking water in 2015. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

The dire situation of the water shortage that faced East Porterville, California in 2014 illustrates a bigger problem for the state of California, Wired's Matt Simon reports, and L.A. is leading the charge to establish "aqueous independence."

The big picture: The forces that caused East Porterville to dry up could one day spread to bigger cities in the state. And Simon writes that while L.A. is getting a handle on it, "[n]ot everyone is as lucky," and around the world, those without diverse water sources "face peril."

The state of play: "California is in trouble," according to Simon, as more severe droughts become a possible reality on the coattails of climate change.

  • Michael Kiparsky, the director of the Wheeler Water Institute at UC Berkley, told Wired: "More droughts, more floods, and more warm temperatures all will result in more water when we don't want it, and less water when we do."

What they're doing: L.A. could soon reach 100% locally sourced water after setting a goal to get its water from a range of technologically-advanced sources.

  • One of those is dirt. The San Fernando aquifer is "a giant underground water tank" which can provide billions of gallons of water. Stormwater will be "percolating into the dirt and, eventually, the aquifer." In 1.9 million cubic yards of soil, there is enough water for 50,000 homes, per Simon.
  • Another is recycled wastewater. The Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant sends approximately 40 million gallons of water a day, after being refined, to the Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility. The water is then filtered "into water so pure, it'll make you very, very sick if you drink enough of it." The process is still being perfected, and the water hasn't been sent straight to the tap yet as the "industry is moving cautiously," Simon says.
  • They're also collecting water from the air. At UC Berkeley, engineers are creating "a fancy sponge-like material that collects moisture" from the air at night, and releases it during the day.

Go deeper: Cape Town's "Day Zero" is a bellwether of global water crises.

Go deeper

Court battles shift mail-in voting deadlines in battleground states

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Michigan joins Pennsylvania in extending mail-in ballot deadlines by several days after the election, due to the coronavirus pandemic and expected delays in U.S. Postal Service.

The latest: Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled that all ballots postmarked before Nov. 2 must be counted, so long as they arrive in the mail before election results are certified. Michigan will certify its general election results on Nov. 23.

Ina Fried, author of Login
29 mins ago - Technology

Interview: Unity CEO explains his company's unusual IPO

CEO John Riccitiello virtually ringing the NYSE bell as Unity shares began trading on Friday. PhotoL Unity

Unity Technologies was just one of many companies with blockbuster IPOs this week, but it took a decidedly different approach, using data rather than handshakes to decide who got to invest and at what price. CEO John Riccitiello explained why in an interview with Axios.

Why it matters: Traditionally, bankers and companies set IPO prices based on conversations and expectations, a process that has been criticized as basically leaving money on the table.

30 mins ago - Podcasts

Taylor Lorenz on Trump's threat to ban TikTok

President Trump has 48 hours left to either follow through on his threatened ban of TikTok, or accept a proposed tech partnership with Oracle.

Axios Re:Cap digs into how the TikTok user community has reacted to this political drama, and what comes next, with New York Times tech reporter Taylor Lorenz.