On July 18, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted a drinking water standard for the regulation of the contaminant 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP). The Division of Drinking Water set the standard for TCP at 5 parts per trillion (ppt) as a maximum contaminant level. If public water systems exceed the standard, they will be required to notify their customers and take corrective action. Based on recent actions taken by the City of Bakersfield to correct their TCP problems, the total tab for California’s public water systems will exceed $4 billion.
In my last post, I wrote about how the water problems in Flint, Michigan may not be an isolated incident in the United States. While a series of missteps and mismanagement led ultimately to the water crisis in Flint, the situation there highlights a much greater problem in the United States: We have generally under-invested in our water infrastructure, and water quality may continue to suffer in other parts of the nation as a result. The water system in Flint has pipes in it that are in some instances 100 years old, and many main lines contain lead. But Flint is hardly alone in facing the problems that aging infrastructure cause. Cities on both coasts, from Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles all have lead and cast iron pipes in the ground that will need to be replaced. In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) created a US infrastructure “report card” which assigned grades to a host of infrastructure types. ASCE’s report was not kind to the various water categories. Drinking water, waste water and dams got “D” ratings, and our levees got a “D-“ rating. The report estimates that the drinking water system alone will take $1 trillion in investment to bring the US as a whole up to a satisfactory level of service. Continue reading
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
We have all heard about the positive economic effects of the shale oil revolution in the United States. According to IHS Research, the unconventional oil and gas industry supported 2.1 million jobs in 2012. IHS expects that number will grow to 3.9 million jobs by 2025. And if you have gone to the gas pumps recently, we have unconventional drilling to thank partly for the lower gas prices. AAA reports that the national average gas price has fallen to $3.186 a gallon this week from $3.342 at the same time a year ago. But does the rising economic tide raise all boats in the country equally? Continue reading