Category Archives: Project Evaluation

Water Main Breaks in California and Tainted Water Supplies in Michigan – A Sign of Bigger Infrastructure Problems in the US?

In 2014, a bit of a media frenzy surrounded a particular water main break in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Westwood. A 93-yar old water main broke and flooded neighborhoods in the area with an estimated 8-10 million gallons of water and caused particular damage to the UCLA Campus.  UCLA had recently completed a $133 million renovation of the Pauley Pavilion, the main on-campus sports arena where the school plays its home basketball games. The broken water main caused significant damage to the Pavilion as well as parking structures and other facilities on the campus. Continue reading

Stormwater Infrastructure and its Potential Role to Change Water Supplies in California

As California slogs through the fourth year of unprecedented drought, all options are on the table to provide new water supplies to the drought-parched state. Last week, I wrote about recycled water and its potentially increased role in the Western United States’ water supply. In the post, however, I cautioned that the high costs associated with this water as compared to surface water supplies during “normal” rainfall years may make the implementation of widespread recycled water programs economically infeasible. Also, I alluded to the fact that the public sometimes has an aversion to recycled water programs due to phrases such as “toilet to tap” to describe the process of turning raw sewage into drinkable water. (Even some popular shows have discussed the theme. The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon had Bill Gates on as a guest, and he and Jimmy Fallon drank water from the Janicki Omniprocessor, a machine that can create clean water from sewage in minutes. Gates hopes to send these machines to areas across the globe to cut down on diseases due to inadequate sanitation systems.) Continue reading

Does Recycled Water Infrastructure hold the key to Solving the Drought?

In today’s news media, California gets much of the attention when it comes to the negative and lingering effects of the drought. While other areas do not get nearly as much media attention, drought is affecting vast swaths of the Western United States. As you can see from the most recent US Drought Monitor map below, large areas of Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, Idaho, Washington and Utah face drought conditions. Currently, 76.07% of the Western United States is experiencing some form of drought. The region has also experienced consistent drought conditions for the last year. Indeed, a year ago, 69.19% of the Western United States also was in a drought. These states have to make due with limited water supplies and a range of new regulations designed to conserve as much water as possible through the drought. Continue reading

Is BDCP a Doable Deal Redux—Part 2

After reading the California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission’s study (“CDAIC Study”) on Bay Delta Conservation Plan (“BDCP”) financing considerations and risk, State Water Project (“SWP”) contractors and (especially) Central Valley Project (“CVP”) contractors should take a fresh look at the financial realities of relying on the BDCP. Unlike the study’s discussion of BDCP affordability,  which was marred by economic flaws, the study offers a useful discussion of financing and risk that water agency board members should consider as part of their fiduciary duty in making BDCP decisions.

The study makes a good first step in scratching the surface of risk assessment of the BDCP. Prudence requires more risk assessment. Continue reading