California’s water infrastructure policies are outdated and are not suitable for it’s growing population. The state currently has almost 40 million residents relying on water infrastructure that has not been expanded since the 1970’s, when it was meant to accommodate just 20 million people. By taking a different approach, California has the opportunity to greatly improve its water infrastructure and boost its economy.
Water Infrastructure and the Economy
Consistent investment into state infrastructure greatly contributes to that state’s economic growth. Compared to other states, California spent the lowest percentage of its budget on capital expenses in 2013 at just 3.3 percent. This shows the state’s failure to identify and fund projects that desperately need investments, like water infrastructure.
California’s choice to not adequately maintain its water infrastructure will drastically affect its economy in the long-run. For instance, the state will have trouble attracting businesses and residents if water storage and delivery systems are failing.
It is clear that California’s economy will suffer without infrastructure improvements but is it true that funding challenges have prevented earlier upgrades?
California’s Financing Issues
The American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that California will need $266 billion to adequately improve and maintain its water infrastructure. Now, with major flooding throughout the state and the Oroville Dam on the verge of collapse, Governor Jerry Brown and state Democrats are complaining about a lack of water infrastructure funding.
Proposition 1, which was passed in 2014, was meant to help with California’s outdated infrastructure by investing $7.5 billion into the state’s water systems. The majority of the funds were supposed to go towards water storage projects yet over two years later, no investments have been made into this area.
Instead, most of the progress has gone towards water recycling and safe drinking water programs, both well-known pork projects. The Oroville Dam may fail, causing mass devastation to entire towns, which makes it increasingly frustrating that nothing has been done to support the dam when the funds were there all along.
Translated in Spanish, RINCON is literally the 'Inside Corner'. Our goal is to provide insight into the issues and areas we're working to ensure you have the best information to make important decisions.