Orange County Branch Newsletter

November 2012

Branch News

The State of California's Infrastructure, Investment and Renewal


Our October luncheon came quickly this month as we were avoiding our society's annual conference in Montreal so our speakers and president could attend both. We were happy to have three panelists, two of whom are past presidents of our branch and one who is a past president of the Los Angeles Section. The panelists were:

1. Yazdan (Yaz) Emrani, PE Co-Chair, California Report Card Executive Committee and Senior VP/Principal, Hall & Foreman, Inc.

2. Kenneth H. Rosenfield, P.E., F.ASCE, Committee Chair for Transportation

3. Mark Norton, P.E., Chair, Water Committee and Water Resources and Planning Mgr., SAWPA

Mr. Emrani introduced the subject and went over the background on the state's infrastructure report card. The goals of the report card are to:

  • Assess the state of our infrastructure
  • Properly plan for the future
  • Develop timely and adequate funding opportunities
  • Have a uniform and consistent message

He discussed how historically, there has been a reluctance to fund infrastructure renewal because it was "out of sight and out of mind." Which of course we all know leads to unexpected failures and major rate increases. Over the next 28 years, California’s population is expected to grow at a rapid pace.  It is estimated that by the year 2040, there will be more than 54,000,000 people that will call California home. The outcome of improving California's infrastructure is a higher quality of life.

Mr. Rosenfield took the stage to specifically discuss transportation issues in California and some of the data that resulted from the transportation committee's analysis. The committee looked at streets and highways, bridges, transit and goods movement and estimated required funding needs. The overall grade for transportation was a C- which was up from a D+. They estimated that $36.5 billion more per year would be required to raise the grade to B. The state estimated they need $10 billion to preserve existing infrastructure and $20 billion to expand so the numbers were in the same order of magnitude.

Finally Mr. Norton took the podium to discuss the water committee and the status of water in California. Any discussion of water in California almost always includes the Delta. In order to sustain the viability of the delta, a Bay-Delta conservation plan was created. The biggest issue is getting clean water safely and efficiently around the Delta. A pipeline/tunnel conveyance is approximately $12.7 billion and other ecosystem restorations add another $3.6 billion.

Other threats to water infrastructure in California are lack of significant investments, budget shortfalls and cutbacks at all levels, and more reliance on local fees and water rates. Some recommendations by the committee are to address short and long term threats to the Delta, add groundwater and surface water storage, seawater and brackish water desalination, implementation of water use efficiency practices, and support for integrated regional water management. The total for capital improvements statewide and Delta improvements that the committee estimated is a 10 year investment of $46 billion or $4.6 billion per year.

The powerpoint slide is below if you would like to see more detail on what was presented. Thank you to our panelists for this update!

 

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