After years of deferred maintenance in a city known for its obsession with youth, glamour and all things new and fresh, Los Angeles’ infrastructure is not aging gracefully.
A 93-year old water main ruptured in Los Angeles this week, shooting roughly 20 million gallons of water into the air flooding nearby streets and parts of UCLA campus. The burst pipe is a stark reminder of an aging water system and the high cost of neglecting infrastructure upgrades.
A million feet of pipeline, or 20 percent of the city’s water line system, has been delivering water to thirsty Angelenos for more than a century. Upgrading the system in dire need of repair won’t be cheap or quick.
L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz said speeding up the replacement rate from 300 to 100 years would cost an estimated $4billion, a large portion of which would be shouldered by ratepayers.
Non-Angelenos, don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet. This problem extends well beyond LA’s city limits.
California has the greatest need for investment in water infrastructure improvements, topping all other states, according to a report released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year. The agency estimates California needs $44.5 billion to repair aging water systems over the next 20 years.
And as proponents of LA County’s recently approved $2 billion plan to replace the decrepit Men’s Central Jail, these type of major investments only get more expensive with time, so the only two options are pay now or pay more later.
[Who do you think pays for California’s water system? Click here to find out and read why Phil Isenberg says knowing who pays for your water could help end California’s water wars.]
While California’s economic outlook has improved, lacking sufficient funds, modernizing the state’s rapidly aging water system poses a significant long-term fiscal challenge for state and local governments. Fighting the effects of aging, whether it’s wrinkles or wonky water mains, is a continuous process requiring regularly scheduled maintenance.
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