The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that when it comes to rebuilding and expanding vital water infrastructure, no state has a greater need than California. Yet, the last time significant state and federal investments were made in the state’s water storage and deliver system was in the 1960’s, when the state’s population stood at 16 million. While more than 38 million people now live in the Golden State, funds have not increased.
As California progresses out of a drought, wetter weather impacts the state’s drinking water. The 2017 crisis in Oroville that forced nearly 200,000 people to evacuate put a spotlight on the infrastructure issues that persist and must be addressed before such a problem turns to a catastrophic event.
Urgency to address these water issues reaches far beyond the state line; 88 percent of all Americans believe some type of action is needed to solve the country’s water infrastructure challenges.
Every four years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducts a survey to estimate the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) eligible needs of systems by state. In 2013, the EPA found that when it comes to rebuilding and expanding vital water infrastructure, no state has a greater need than California. The survey revealed a $384-billion wish list of infrastructure projects through 2030. Yet, the last time significant state and federal investments were made in the state’s water storage and delivery system was in the 1960’s, when the state’s population stood at 16 million. While more than 38 million people now live in the Golden State, funds have not increased.
The American Society of Civil Engineers’ Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gives California’s drinking and wastewater systems a grade of “D.”
Thanks to new reservoir construction and aggressive conservation, Southern California will have enough water to last for approximately two years, before having to face the worst impacts of continual drought. Wetter weather, however, also impacts the state’s drinking water. The crisis in Oroville puts a spotlight on the infrastructure issues that persist and must be addressed before the fear about possible disaster turns to a true catastrophic event.
Nearly 50 percent of mayors surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2015 rank water and wastewater investment a top three priority for their cities. Yet deferred maintenance and the cost of decades of neglect are adding up. A water main breaks somewhere in America once every two minutes, costing $2.6 billion annually in repairs.
Urgency to address these issues reaches far beyond the state line; 88 percent of all Americans believe some type of action is needed to solve the country’s water infrastructure challenges.
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An innovative, new sustainable water source for Southern California, the Cadiz Water Project is a public-private partnership between Cadiz Inc. and the Santa Margarita Water District, Orange County’s second-largest water agency. The project will prevent the annual loss of groundwater to evaporation in the eastern Mojave Desert and create a new water supply – enough for 100,000 families a year – and a groundwater bank for Southern California water providers.
The Project will be located at the base of a significant desert watershed in Cadiz, approximately 80 miles from Barstow, California. Rain and snow that fall in the watershed’s upper elevations percolate below the ground and filter through cracks in bedrock and porous alluvial to enter a huge underground aquifer, which holds as much water as Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir. Over time, the groundwater eventually flows to highly saline playas or “dry lakes” at the bottom of the watershed, where it evaporates and is lost.
California’s plan to build a pair of massive tunnels to move Sacramento River water past the Delta and into the state’s water distribution system has reached a milestone. After a decade of planning and analysis, the state’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) has given the project the go ahead. Construction of the twin tunnels could begin as soon as 2018.
The $15 billion construction project —named the California WaterFix — aims to provide millions of Californians with a more reliable water supply. The project would send water to Southern Californians and Central Valley farmers via two 30-mile long tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California says the tunnels are vital to stabilizing deliveries of Northern California water that on average provide the Southland with about a third of its supplies.