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
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.
What happens when the impossible happens? Does prudence dictate that one revisit expectations? The existing drought in California has understandably distracted the water industry. With multi-billion infrastructure investments on the horizon and the foundation of the California economy hanging in the balance, responsible decision-making must reconsider analyses of California’s water supply availability. Continue reading
Last week, the National Security Administration’s often-maligned surveillance programs received headlines for quite an unusual reason: Protesters and civil rights activists in Utah are trying to use a local municipality’s control over water supplies to stop the construction of a new NSA “data mining center”. The NSA plans to open a new data analysis center in Bluffdale, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City. The data center will need a steady supply of water to cool its massive computers that presumably scan everything from terrorists’ communications to this blog piece about the NSA’s facilities.
According to a December 4th edition of Time Magazine, opponents of the NSA’s surveillance program have formed a coalition called OffNow to urge lawmakers in the state and the local water district to rescind their agreement with the NSA to supply the project with water. Beyond the civil rights controversy that the NSA programs bring up, OffNow takes exception to the fact that this facility will receive below-market rate water prices in order to help spur economic development and construction in the surrounding areas. Why do I bring this story up? Water is an absolutely crucial component to the economic development of any economy, and some recent studies suggest that areas of the country like Salt Lake City may face reduced water supplies in the years to come. As in this situation, state and local governments will have to face the reality of finding a balance between the need for economic development and long-term water conservation. In this piece, I will address the current water supply trends in the State of Utah, and how the state can better plan for its future water needs. Continue reading