Orange County Branch Newsletter

January 2014

Branch News

Branch News - Overview of Legislative Bills and Projects by Engineers Without Borders

By: Steven King, P.E.

Legislative Update

On December 19th, ASCE-Orange County Branch welcomed its final luncheon speakers of the year at the Center Club in Costa Mesa. Presenters included Region 9’s lobbyist, Mr. Richard Markuson of Pacific Advocacy Group, followed by Ms. Michelle Biery and Mr. Anand Helekar of Engineers Without Borders with an update on Orange County Programs. 

Mr. Markuson provided an overview and the outcomes of several pieces of 2013 State Legislation in which the ASCE Region 9 Board of Governors took positions. Seven bills received support from ASCE and eventually were successfully Chaptered.  A single bill was opposed unless amended and failed to pass both houses.  An additional five bills were supported by ASCE but failed to pass both houses.    

ASCE (Support) (Chaptered)
AB 14 – State Freight Plan.  Required the Transportation Agency to prepare a state freight plan with specified elements to govern the immediate and long-range planning activities and capital investments of the state with respect to the movement of freight.

AB 116 – Land Use: Subdivision Maps: Expiration Dates. Extended the expiration date of any tentative map, vesting tentative map, or parcel map that will expire before January1, 2016 by 24 months.

AB 401 – Transportation: Design Build: Highways.  Authorized the Department of Transportation to utilize design-build procurement for up to 10 projects on the state highway system, based on either best value or lowest responsible bid.  In addition, authorized regional transportation agencies to utilize design-build procurement for projects on or adjacent to the state highway system and on expressways that are not on the state highway system.
AB 803 – Water Recycling Act of 2013. Removed the immediate notification requirement to the local health officer of the director of environmental health for effluent treated sewage and does not apply to unauthorized discharge of effluent of treated sewage defined as recycled water.

AB 850 – Public Capital Facility: Water Quality.  Authorized specified joint powers authorities to issue rate reduction bonds to finance utility projects until December 31, 2020.

SB 152 – Licensed Professionals: Engineers: Geologists: Geophysicists.  Deleted provisions of the Professional Engineers Act allowing for a temporary authorization to practice as an engineer.

SB 425 – Public Works: the Public Works Peer Review Act of 2013. Allowed a public agency to establish a specified peer review group and required the administering agency to draft a charter related to the duties of the peer review group.

ASCE (Oppose Unless Amended) (Did Not Pass)
AB 145 – State Water Resources Control Board: Drinking Water. The bill would have transferred to the State Water Resources Control Board the various duties and responsibilities imposed on the department by the California Safe Drinking Water Act.  The bill would have also required the provisions to be implemented during the 2014-15 fiscal year.

ASCE (Support) (Did Not Pass)
AB 229 – Local Government: Infrastructure and Revitalization Financing
AB 243 – Local Government: Infrastructure and Revitalization Financing
AB 716 – Infrastructure: State Planning and Funding
SCA 4 – Local Government Transportation Projects: Special Taxes
SCA 8 – Transportation Projects: Special Taxes

In addition to the 2013 legislative items, Richard identified several topics likely to be considered in the 2014 session including the California Water Bond, Bay Delta Conservation Plan, Bay Bridge, transportation funding, and additional State revenue.  As the legislative session begins, Region 9’s Government Relations, Transportation, and Environment & Water Committees will review proposed legislation and recommend positions to the Board of Governors.

Traditionally, the Government Relations Committee organizes a legislative fly-in to Sacramento where participants meet with elected officials and staff members to discuss key issues facing civil engineers.  Topics from prior visits have included sustainability, project delivery, high speed rail, water bond, STEM, redevelopment, and the role of the Engineering Board.  This year, ASCE is making an effort to encourage members to meet with their Assembly Member or Senator in their district offices in April 2014.

In addition to ASCE’s efforts in California, members will also be participating in a fly-in March 18-20, 2014 to Washington D.C.  If any members are interested in participating in advocacy efforts on behalf of ASCE, please reach out to your local Government Affairs Committee and sign up to become a Key Contact on the ASCE website.

Engineers Without Borders

Ms. Biery and Mr. Helekar introduced Engineers Without Borders (EWB) by providing a brief summary of the organization followed by a review of the current programs and projects Orange County members are participating in. 

EWB-USA consists of 303 chapters nationwide and is made up of both students and professionals.  The Orange County chapter is currently leading 3 key programs in Kenya, El Salvador, and Honduras.  Each program is a 10 year commitment and includes several projects lasting 4-5 years each.  Programs are initiated when a community in need applies for aid and is selected for the program.  EWB-USA headquarters assigns the program to a chapter which implements the program through a repeating series of assessment trips, alternatives assessment & design, and implementation trips.

In Kenya, teams have worked on several projects including transportation and water infrastructure.  The team designed and constructed a footbridge to provide access across a ravine which is routinely flooded.  The improved access between villages allowed residents to acquire necessary medical supplies timely.

Another problem in many families across Kenya struggle with is access to clean water.  The team has undertaken several projects to assist the families including rainwater roof collection systems and well drilling. 
The Honduras team has constructed a water distribution system serving 350 residents. The system consists of an elevated concrete tank with in home connections providing access to clean water across the village.

ASCE is a proud sponsor of Engineers Without Borders and donations made by our members help make these programs possible.

Photo Gallery